Saturday and Sunday were introduced in the United States as the weekend in the 1920s to accommodate the religious holy days of Christians and Jews. In the decades that followed, other nations of the world began to follow suit. To many of us, the weekend seems very short, but we should be thankful because before the 1920s, the weekend was only one day: Sunday.
The weekend began as a single day of rest in the United States because the population was predominantly Christian. Sunday is the Christian day of rest and worship. As Jewish immigrants began to arrive in the U.S., they began to run into a problem with employers because their day of rest was Saturday.
The labor unions stepped up to the plate for both religions and began to negotiate a 5-day workweek. One of the first companies to accommodate such a notion was the New England Cotton Mill. Another was Henry Ford, who began to shut down his factories on Saturday and Sunday beginning in 1926. The rest of the nation slowly fell in line, and by 1940, the 2-day weekend was a national institution.
It is said that the British first invented the 2-day weekend in back in the 1800s. Americans pretty much just followed their example, but can still be claimed as second to adopt the idea. The next country to promote the 2-day weekend was Italy under the fascist rule of Mussolini in 1935. France didnít follow suit until the 1960s, while other countries in Europe didnít go for it until the 1980s.
Several countries of the world were extremely late adopters of the 2-day weekend. Japan didnít have a 2-day weekend until it agreed to do so in a trade agreement with the United States signed in 1990. One of the last countries to adopt a 2-day weekend was China in 1995.
Many countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa have a 2-day weekend, but it is not Saturday and Sunday. These countries are primarily Muslim, and their holy day is Friday. Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen have a Thursday-Friday weekend, whereas most other Muslim countries go with Friday and Saturday.
Posted 3646 day ago