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Mr Wednesday

If (like me) you are a fan of Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” you’re probably enjoying the new TV series based on the novel. While it’s no secret that Ian McShane’s character is based on the old Norse god, Odin, some might be wondering why he’s called “Mr Wednesday”. The answer lies in the distant past, to the time before the country of England existed. In the Fifth Century AD, the Angles, Saxons and Jutes who crossed the seas to take land in a Britain that had been so recently deserted by Rome sprang from the same Germanic clans who also drifted north to Scandinavia and later gave rise to the vikings. They all spoke a similar language that came from the same root and they worshipped the same gods.  Old English and Old Norse are sister languages, but though similar they already showed signs of diverging as the Roman Empire crumbled. For these reasons the names of the Gods varied in the different lands that these clans settled in. Famously, the Scandinavians worshipped a god called Odin. A…

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