The name comes from the Middle English Wednes dei, which is from Old English language Wēdnes dæg, meaning the day of the English god Woden (Wodan) who was a god of the Anglo-Saxons in England until about the 7th century. Wēdnes dæg is like the Old Norse Oðinsdagr ("Odin's day"), which is an early translation of the Latin dies Mercurii ("Mercury's day"), and reflects the widespread association of Woden with Mercury going back to Tacitus.
In Romance languages it is derived from the name of the Roman god Mercury: mercredi (French), mercoledì (Italian), miércoles (Spanish), miercuri (Romanian), dimecres (Catalan), dies Mercurii (Latin). Similarly, in most of the Indian Languages the name for Wednesday, Buddhavar is derived from the Vedic name for Mercury, Buddha. Buddh is also used in Urdu. Russian does not use pagan names but instead uses sredá, meaning "middle," similar to the German Mittwoch. Likewise, Portuguese uses the word quarta-feira, meaning "fourth day."
Wednesday is also in the middle of the common Western 5-day workweek that starts on Monday and finishes on Friday.
The Eastern Orthodox Church observe Wednesday (as well as Friday) as a fast day throughout the year (with the exception of several fast-free periods during the year). Fasting on Wednesday and Fridays entails abstinence from meat or meat products (i.e., four-footed animals), poultry and dairy products. Unless a feast day occurs on a Friday, the Orthodox also abstain from fish, from using oil in their cooking and from alcoholic beverages (there is some debate over whether abstention from oil involves all cooking oil or only olive oil). For the Orthodox, Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year commemorate the Crucifixion of Christ and the Theotokos (Mother of God), especially as she stood by the foot of the cross. There are hymns in the Octoekhos which reflect this liturgically. These include special Theotokia (hymns to the Mother of God) called Stavrotheotokia ("Cross-Theotokia"). The dismissal at the end of services on Wednesday begins with these words: "May Christ our true God, through the power of the precious and life-giving cross...."
Many Protestant churches also have services or a Bible study on Wednesday. Some U.S. high schools have had a custom of scheduling sporting events on Monday and Thursday for girls' games, Tuesday and Friday for boys' games, and leave Wednesday evenings free partially for this reason.
In the folk rhyme, "Wednesday's child is full of woe". In another rhyme reciting the days of the week, Solomon Grundy was 'Married on Wednesday.' In Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, the disagreeable nature of the weather is attributed to it being "Winds-Day" (a play on "Wednesday"). In Richard Brautigan's In Watermelon Sugar Wednesday is the day when the sun shines grey.
Wednesday is used as a character's first or last name in several narrative works, including Thursday's fictions by Richard James Allen, Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods, and the 60's television show, The Addams Family.
A song titled "Wednesday's Song" is on the 2004 album Shadows Collide with People by John Frusciante, "Wednesday" is the title of a song on musician Tori Amos' "Scarlet's Walk" album, and "Wednesday Mayday" is a piece of music from band Awaken on their album Tales Of Acid Ice Cream in 1996.
In the film Mean Girls, Amy Poehler's character makes the girls a "Hump Day Treat".