Calendars, weekends and economy

I have a silly question: i know that there are a few calendars in the world. What puzzles me: is there another organisation for a week other than 7 days - 2 for rest and 5 for work? If we decided to change and have another pattern - for instance, 8 days work, 3 days rest - would we see any changes in economy? Would people retire earlier or later? Would that have an impact on wages, businesses and so on? Why do we have a seven day week anyway, if our calendar and time has a base 12 system (12 months, 24 hours, 60 minutes, seconds…)?

You can blame the 7-day week on your choice of the Jews or Babylonians, says Wikipedia. And then of course when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire and eventually a good chunk of the world, it brought the Jewish 7-day week along with it.

The 7-day week precedes the 24-hour day, the 60-minute hour, and the 60-second minute by a goodly number of centuries.

Well, the 7 day week isn’t an arbitrary invention like the 60-minute hour. It’s based on the phases of the moon, no?

The five-day week is incredibly recent. Until the middle of the 20th century, the standard work week was six days, although there was a transition period of a half-day on Saturdays. (This is American-centric, of course, although the fight for fewer hours took place in many Western countries.)

That same Wikipedia link mentions some attempts at other structures, none of which lasted long. It also casts doubt on the phases of the moon theory.

There’s no way of knowing what a different week length would produce culturally if it lasted for centuries. We didn’t even foresee a 5/2 split, after all.

In a few Latin American countries, coupons on bonds are calculated in using the BUS/252 convention in which interest only accrues on business days (if you have the day off, your investments have the day off, too). So at the very least a change in the business day/weekend day ratio would make it easier or harder to make money with Brazilian financial instruments.

You are mixing how we measure time with what we decide to do in that measured time.

You might want to look at how time (calendars) is measured then figure out a way to convince everyone that you have a better mousetrap for doing things in that measured time. Good luck with that.

Well, I can tell you from personal experience that such a change would create lots of havoc with my work schedule, and with anyone else who is Sabbath observant. If we went to an eight-day week, I’d have to miss work on a different day of the week each week.

Zev Steinhardt

Firemen, for one that comes immediately to mind, don’t work the 5 weekdays and have the 2 weekend days off. They’re able to provide for themselves and their families.
I very often didn’t ‘work’ 5/2 when I was in the military (but did unless there was a reason not to),
I’m sure there are many others, esp. with our 24/7 lifestyles.
So I’m not sure what you’re asking.

I think the connection to the phases of the Moon (new - waxing half – full – waning half) is obvious. The “doubt” cast by the Wikipedia article strikes me as so much moondust, completely implausible. To be sure, given an ancient tradition of a 7-day cycle, it would be normal for the priests of any religion working towards general acceptance to back-rationalize the week as stemming from dogma, kind of the way the early Christians moved the birth of Christ from the spring to the winter solstice to compete with Saturnalia, or more precisely slot it into Christianity as if the Christians had the idea of the midwinter feast first and the Romans stole it.

I think the idea of having an explicit day off from labor does originate with the Jews and the Third Commandment. Early hunting/farming communities would not generally have had any days completely off, farming is kind of an all-day all-week kind of thing. You do have time off, but it just pops up beween one chore and another, or when the weather throws a monkey wrench into the works – unpredictable, both in length and timing. The idea of having a set weekly schedule, so you can say things like “I’m going to take evey Sunday off,” kind of relies on working in a much more predictable line of work, like being a merchant, or, later, an industrial worker.

The Mayans had two different weeks running concurrently, neither of which were 7 days in length. One was 13 days long, the other twenty. Let’s not try it, it sounds very confusing.