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15 May

image: MercuryThe Romans believed 15 May was the birthday of Mercury, the messenger and son of Zeus who could travel with the speed of thought. His festival, celebrated on this day, was called the Mercuralia and was a time for merchants to sprinkle their goods and their heads with water from a well dedicated to Mercury.

Why was Mercury's festival associated with Merchants?

Many of the later Roman Gods, such as Mercury, were based on the Greek Gods. Mercury was originally Hermes, the god of commerce and trade, and the patron god of merchants.

What other Gods were linked with Mercury?

The Romans linked the German god Wodanaz or Wodan/Wotan (related to the Anglo-Saxon battle god Woden and later the Norse Odin) with Mercury.

Wednesday is Mercury's day

On the Roman calendar, Wednesday was a sacred day for Mercury and it was called dies Mercurii dies (Mercury's Day) in Latin. It was later changed to Wednesday (Wodan's day), after Mercury's Germanic counterpart, Wodan.

In French, Wednesday is 'Mercredi'. It comes from the Latin 'Mercurii dies'.

Who were Mercury's parents?

Mercury was the son of Jupiter and Maia. Jupiter was the king of the gods, the equivalent of the Greek Zeus. Maia was the daughter of Atlas and a goddess of fertility.

The month of May was named for his mother, Maia.

Mercury and Science

Mercury has had a profound influence on science, with a planet and an element named after him.

In astronomy, Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and the second smallest planet in our solar system. It takes only 88 days for Mercury to complete its circular orbit around the sun. Mercury has no satellite.

The element Mercury is found naturally in the environment. It can also occur as a result of pollution.

Mercury and the English Language

Mercury is the source of many words, especially market, merchandise, merchant, and merciful

Also on this day ...

15 May 1856: L.Frank Baum, the author of 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' was born.


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