Why do most calenders have Saturday as the seventh day?

I’ve noticed that most calenders I’ve seen have Sunday as the first day of the week, and Saturday as the last day of the week. Now, to me this seems odd, because obviously they could decide that ANY day is the first day of the week. Monday is the first day of the “work week” for most of us. It would therefore seem to make sense to make Monday as the first day of the week, with Sunday the seventh.

There is also the several thousand year old tradition of having the seventh day as a “day of rest”, which is usually meant to mean Sunday.

I even got into an argument with my wife. She claims that Saturday is the last day of the week. I maintain that it is traditionally Sunday.

So who’s right? And why do calender makers tend to agree that Sunday is the first day of the week?

Saturday is the biblical 7th day, the day of rest. It’s a development of christianity to turn it into a “holy day”.

A few places that I’ve worked (that had variable schedules week-to-week) used non-Sunday-to-Saturday-week calendar boards. One was Saturday-to-Friday, the others were Monday-to-Sunday. I can’t count the number of times I’ve either missed a shift or showed up for a shift that I wasn’t scheduled for because I got the day wrong just by counting the columns.

I would say that it is derived from Jewish tradition- Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath. It is the 7th day- the day of rest, but it is also the most important day religiously (I.E. we have to sit through 3 hour services every Saturday).

I work for a company that has a Sat-thru-Fri shop calendar.

But, historically, Saturday is the Sabbath, and Christianity is celebrating “The Lord’s Day” on the wrong day. The Seventh Day Adventists are the largest Christian sect emphasizing this point.

(They have certain other unorthodox views that tend to distance them from the mainstream…)


Sundown Friday until sundown Saturday is the “original Sabbath day” as observed by the Hebrews. The Roman Catholic Church, in an effort to distance itself from the customs of Judaism, changed the Sabbath day to Sunday. Jesus was crucified on Friday, and by custom could not be buried on the Sabbath. He was to be buried on Sunday but was found missing from the cave in which his body had been kept.

The Christian calendar probably keeps Sunday as the first day of the week not because Saturday is the 7th day but because Sunday is the day of resurrection (new beginnings?).

My sister-in-law gave me a calendar from an artist she stayed with in England. There are two strange things about it–one is that it uses Monday-Sunday weeks, and the other is that, for calendar months requiring more than five weekly rows (this March, for example), instead of splitting a few of the bottom squares in half and squeezing the extra days in, this calendar just pops them up onto the top into those beginning squares that would usually be blank! (The first row of March is like this: Monday the 31st, blank, blank, blank, blank, Saturday the 1st, Sunday the 2nd.)

I was wondering if Monday-Sunday calendars are common in England (and other places). They certainly do make sense.

I also remember learning in Spanish class that Monday is considered the first day of the week and Sunday is considered the last day. Thinking about it this way does keep the Christian sabbath on the seventh day rather than the first.

James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore (1877-1921), in a signed letter:
"Is Saturday the seventh day according to the Bible and the Ten Commandments? I answer yes. Is Sunday the first day of the week and did the Church change the seventh day -Saturday - for Sunday, the first day? I answer yes . Did Christ change the day? I answer no!
“Faithfully yours, J. Card. Gibbons”

The Catholic Mirror, official publication of James Cardinal Gibbons, Sept. 23, 1893:
“The Catholic Church, . . . by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday.”

from http://www.biblesabbath.org/confessions.html

Read that back to yourself Qadgop. You don’t really think that Saturday is a Christian holy day do you?

Yes they are. I have several calendars curently in view and they all show the week beginning on Monday. They all show the extra days using split boxes on the bottom row too (although I have seen the style you mentioned).

BTW, a fairly recent tradition among Catholics (at least over here and I assume everywhere else) is to attend Mass on Saturday evening and count that for the Sunday observance.

One day the Americans will start following international standards…

There is in fact an international standard, called ISO 8601, which settles all these problems, once and for all. (When people start using it, that is…)

Anyway, the ISO-8601:2000 defines Monday as the first day of the secular week. (Various religious groups have other conventions: Jews (and early christians) generally count Saterday as the end of the week, and I believe most Muslems consider Friday the end of their week - but these are just ecclesiastic conventions, not international standards.)

This part of the standard is well implemented in continental Europe, and from what I can tell, most of the world except America.

We’re still smarting from the ludicrousness of ISO-9000.

If Saturday wasn’t the seventh day, then the Sunday & Saturday wouldn’t be the week-ends.



Nope. I meant to say that Sunday was turned into the christian holy day, but I wasn’t paying attention to what I typed.

In Jewish-Christian tradition, Sunday has always been the first day of the week, and Saturday the seventh. No church (or anyone else) has ever changed this. (Of course bussinesses and other groups may organize work calenders according to their own convenience, much as bussinesses and other groups use a “fiscal year” that may or may not begin on January 1.) What has changed is what is considered the primary holy day. Jews, since the beginning of time (literally, according to tradition) have worshipped on Saturday (beginning at sundown on Friday evening). Saturday is the Sabbath (literally, “seventh”), the seventh day of creation, and the day of rest prescribed by the Ten Commandments. No church has ever denied this (AFAIK).

The very first Christians were also Jews. They would go to synagogue on Saturday with all the other Jews in the community, and then on Sunday, the first day, would gather by themselves to celebrate the Ressurection of the Lord, which biblical accounts describe as taking place “on the first day of the week.” As time passed and Christianity and Judaism diverged, Christian Jews began to find themselves unwelcome in synagogues. Gentiles, whom pretty much everyone agreed were free from obligations and tradtions under the Jewish law, increasingly joined the church, and may never have worshipped on Saturday, not being Jews. Furthermore, some, like St. Paul, began arguing that even Jewish Christians should avoid following the Jewish law in ways that might seem to seperate them from Gentile Christians or implied an obligation to that law. The net result of all these things was that within a hudred years or so, the church, which was now was almost entirely Gentile anyway, worshipped only on Sunday (in the morning, usually, when Christ was presumably raised).

“Sabbath” has often been used by Christians as a name for Sunday, but it was either by analogy with the true sabbath (seventh) as a traditional day of rest and worship, or from confusion. Sunday is traditionally called “the Lord’s Day” in the church, although it’s not something you hear in conversation. (Even church bullitins usually just call it “Sunday” anymore.) Some, such as Friends (Quakers), still call Sunday “First Day.” (Though this, too, is seen as a little affected by most Quakers I know.) Interestingly, the early church also called Sunday “the Eighth Day”! Like the eighth note in a musical octave, Sunday functioned simutaneously as the first in a new series and the last in an old series. It was the final completion of the order of creation, which had taken place in the first seven days, and the begining of the new creation. Cool, huh?

Seventh Day Adventists (and a few other Seventh Day churches) don’t disagree with the rest of Christianity on the ordering of the calender, only on the authority of the early church to disregard Jewish law by changing the day of worship.

We might be splitting hairs, but I consider the following, quoted directly from the appropriate ISO standard (linked to in my earlier post), as trying to change just that::

I do agree, however, that the Judeo-Christian ecclesiastic week, has always started on Sunday.

Forgetting the which day is 7th argument. I think calendars have Sunday first for one simple reason. Which is better?





I work in broadcasting. The broadcast week goes Mon-Sun, and the broadcast month ends on the last Sunday of the month. This means the first day of broadcast March is Feb 24.

To make things even more confusing for the rest of the world, the broadcast day goes from 6a-6a. So, 1am on the 26th is considered to be on the 25th.


In Arabic, Sunday is yawm al-ahad — which means Day One. Monday is Day Two, Tuesday is Day Three, Wednesday is Day Four, and Thursday is Day Five. Friday is al-Jumu‘ah. Saturday is al-sabt (the Sabbath).

In Hebrew, Sunday is yom ha-ri’shon—‘the first day’. Monday is Day Two, and so on. ISO or no ISO, you will never get Arabs and Hebrews to agree that Monday is the first day.

I stand corrected! (regarding the ecclesiastic week, that is.)

We’ll see about that. It would be preposterous to suggest that they will change their religious conventions, but I won’t be surprised if they were to use the ISO conventions under secular curcumstances, the same way as I believe that the Gregorian calendar is used.