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Sol Iustitiae (Sun of Righteousness), derived from the Judeo-Christian Bible, Malachi 4:2. By Albrecht Durer, c. 1499/1500 Pierre-Le-Moyne-De-l'art-de-regner MGG 0910.tif
Sol Iustitiae (Sun of Righteousness), derived from the Judeo-Christian Bible, Malachi 4:2. By Albrecht Dürer, c.1499/1500

Sunday is the day of the week between Saturday and Monday. Sunday is a day of rest in most Western countries and a part of the weekend. In some Middle Eastern countries, Sunday is a weekday. [1]


For most Christians, Sunday is observed as a day of worship and rest, holding it as the Lord's Day and the day of Christ's resurrection; in the United States, Canada, China, Japan, as well as in parts of South America, Sunday is the first day of the week. [2] According to the Islamic calendar, Hebrew calendar and traditional calendars (including Christian calendars) Sunday is the first day of the week; Quaker Christians call Sunday the "first day" in accordance with their testimony of simplicity. [3] [4] The International Organization for Standardization ISO 8601, which is based in Switzerland, calls Sunday the seventh day of the week. [5]


A depiction of Mani, the personified Moon, and his sister Sol, the personified Sun, from Norse mythology (1895) by Lorenz Frolich. Mani and Sol by Lorenz Frolich.jpg
A depiction of Máni, the personified Moon, and his sister Sól, the personified Sun, from Norse mythology (1895) by Lorenz Frølich.

The name "Sunday", the day of the Sun, is derived from Hellenistic astrology, where the seven planets, known in English as Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury and the Moon, each had an hour of the day assigned to them, and the planet which was regent during the first hour of any day of the week gave its name to that day. During the 1st and 2nd centuries, the week of seven days was introduced into Rome from Egypt, and the Roman names of the planets were given to each successive day.

Germanic peoples seem to have adopted the week as a division of time from the Romans, but they changed the Roman names into those of corresponding Teutonic deities. Hence, the dies Solis became Sunday (German, Sonntag).

The English noun Sunday derived sometime before 1250 from sunedai, which itself developed from Old English (before 700) Sunnandæg (literally meaning "sun's day"), which is cognate to other Germanic languages, including Old Frisian sunnandei, Old Saxon sunnundag, Middle Dutch sonnendach (modern Dutch zondag), Old High German sunnun tag (modern German Sonntag), and Old Norse sunnudagr (Danish and Norwegian søndag, Icelandic sunnudagur and Swedish söndag). The Germanic term is a Germanic interpretation of Latin dies solis ("day of the sun"), which is a translation of the ancient Greek Ἥλίου ημέρα" (Hēlíou hēméra). [6]

In most Indian languages, the word for Sunday is derived from Sanskrit Ravivāra or Adityavāravāra meaning day and Aditya and Ravi both being names for Surya, the Sun and the solar deity. Ravivāra is the first day cited in Jyotisha, which provides logical reason for giving the name of each weekday. In the Thai solar calendar, the name ("Waan Arthit") is derived from Aditya, and the associated colour is red.

In Russian, the word for Sunday is Воскресенье (Voskreseniye) meaning "resurrection" (that is, the day of a week which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ). [7] In Old Russian, Sunday was also called неделя (nedelya), "free day", or "day with no work", but in the contemporary language this word means "week".

The Modern Greek word for Sunday, Κυριακή, is derived from Κύριος (Kyrios, Lord) also, due to its liturgical significance as the day commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, i.e. The Lord's Day.

The name is similar in the Romance languages. In Italian, Sunday is called domenica, which also means "Lord's Day" (from Latin Dies Dominica). One finds similar cognates in French, where the name is dimanche, as well as Romanian duminică, and in Spanish and Portuguese, domingo.

In Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, Sunday is called 星期日 (Xīng qī rì), 일요일 (Il-yo-Il), and 日曜日 (Nichiyōbi) respectively, which all mean "sun day of the week".

The Arabic word for Sunday is الأحد (Al-Ahad), meaning "the first". It is usually combined with the word يوم (Yawm) meaning "day".

Position in the week

ISO 8601

The international standard ISO 8601 for representation of dates and times states that Sunday is the seventh and last day of the week. [5] This method of representing dates and times unambiguously was first published in 1988.

Culture and languages

In the Judaic, Christian, as well as in some Islamic tradition, Sunday has been considered the first day of the week. A number of languages express this position either by the name for the day or by the naming of the other days. In Hebrew it is called יום ראשון yom rishon, in Arabic الأحد al-ahad, in Persian and related languages یکشنبه yek-shanbe, all meaning "first".

In Greek, the names of the days Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (Greek : Δευτέρα, Greek : Τρίτη, Greek : Τετάρτη, and Greek : Πέμπτη) mean “second”, “third”, “fourth”, and “fifth”, respectively. This leaves Sunday in the first position of the week count. Similarly in Portuguese, where the days from Monday to Friday are counted as "segunda-feira", "terça-feira", "quarta-feira", "quinta-feira" and "sexta-feira". In Vietnamese, the working days in the week are named as: Thứ Hai (Second), Thứ Ba (Third), Thứ Tư (Fourth), Thứ Năm (Fifth), Thứ Sáu (Sixth), and Thứ Bảy (Seventh). Sunday is called "Chủ Nhật"(chữ Hán: 主日) meaning “Lord's Day”. Some colloquial text in the south of Vietnam and from the church may use a different reading of "Chúa Nhật"(in contemporary Vietnamese, "Chúa" means God or Lord and "Chủ" means own). In German, Wednesday is called Mittwoch, literally “mid-week”, implying the week runs from Sunday to Saturday.

Slavic languages implicitly number Monday as day number one.

Polish Slovak Czech Ukrainian Bulgarian Russian literal or derived meaning
Mondayponiedziałekpondelokpondělíпонеділокпонеделникпонедельник(day) after not working
Tuesdaywtorekutorokúterýвівтороквторниквторникsecond (day)
Wednesdayśrodastredastředaсередасрядасредаmiddle (day)
Thursdayczwartekštvrtokčtvrtekчетверчетвъртъкчетвергfourth (day)
Fridaypiątekpiatokpátekп'ятницяпетъкпятницаfifth (day)
Sundayniedzielanedelaneděleнеділянеделявоскресеньеnot working (day)

Russian воскресение (Sunday) means “resurrection”. Hungarian szerda (Wednesday), csütörtök (Thursday), and péntek (Friday) are Slavic loanwords, so the correlation with “middle”, “four”, and “five” are not evident to Hungarian speakers. Hungarians use Vasárnap for Sunday, which means “market day”.

In the Maltese language, due to its Siculo-Arabic origin, Sunday is called Il-Ħadd, a corruption of wieħed, meaning “one”. Monday is It-Tnejn, meaning "two". Similarly, Tuesday is It-Tlieta (three), Wednesday is L-Erbgħa (four), and Thursday is Il-Ħamis (five).

In Armenian, Monday is Yerkoushabti, literally meaning “second day of the week”, Tuesday Yerekshabti “third day”, Wednesday Chorekshabti “fourth day”, Thursday Hingshabti “fifth day”. Saturday is Shabat coming from the word Sabbath or Shabbath in Hebrew, and Kiraki, coming from the word Krak, meaning “fire”, is Sunday, referring to the sun as a fire. Apostle John, in Revelations 1:10, refers to the “Lord's Day”, Greek : Κυριακή ἡμέρα (kyriakḗ hēmera), that is, “the day of the Lord”, possibly influencing the Armenian word for Sunday.

In many European countries, calendars show Monday as the first day of the week, [8] which follows the ISO 8601 standard.

In the Persian calendar, used in Iran and Afghanistan, Sunday is the second day of the week. However, it is called “number one” as counting starts from zero; the first day - Saturday - is denoted as day zero.

Sunday in Christianity

Christian usage

The ancient Romans traditionally used the eight-day nundinal cycle, a market week, but in the time of Augustus in the 1st century AD, a seven-day week also came into use.

In the gospels, the women are described as coming to the empty tomb "εις μια των σαββατων", [9] which literally means "toward the first of the sabbath" and is often translated "on the first day of the week".

Justin Martyr, in the mid-2nd century, mentions "memoirs of the apostles" as being read on "the day called that of the sun" (Sunday) alongside the "writings of the prophets." [10]

On 7 March 321, Constantine I, Rome's first Christian emperor, decreed that Sunday would be observed as the Roman day of rest: [11]

On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost. [12]

Despite the official adoption of Sunday as a day of rest by Constantine, the seven-day week and the nundinal cycle continued to be used side by side until at least the Calendar of 354 and probably later. [13]

In 363, Canon 29 of the Council of Laodicea prohibited observance of the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday), and encouraged Christians to work on Saturday and rest on the Lord's Day (Sunday). [14] The fact that the canon had to be issued at all is an indication that adoption of Constantine's decree of 321 was still not universal, not even among Christians. It also indicates that Jews were observing the Sabbath on Saturday.

Modern practices

First-day Sabbatarians, including Christians of the Methodist, Baptist and Reformed (Presbyterian and Congregationalist) traditions, observe Sunday as the sabbath, a day devoted to the worship of God at church (the attendance of Sunday School, a service of worship in the morning and evening), as well as a day of rest (meaning that people are free from servile labour and should refrain from trading, buying and selling except when necessary). [15] [16]

For most Christians the custom and obligation of Sunday rest is not as strict. A minority of Christians do not regard the day they attend church as important, so long as they attend. There is considerable variation in the observance of Sabbath rituals and restrictions, but some cessation of normal weekday activities is customary. Many Christians today observe Sunday as a day of church-attendance.

In Roman Catholic liturgy, Sunday begins on Saturday evening. The evening Mass on Saturday is liturgically a full Sunday Mass and fulfills the obligation of Sunday Mass attendance, and Vespers (evening prayer) on Saturday night is liturgically "first Vespers" of the Sunday. The same evening anticipation applies to other major solemnities and feasts, and is an echo of the Jewish practice of starting the new day at sunset. Those who work in the medical field, in law enforcement, and soldiers in a war zone are dispensed from the usual obligation to attend Church on Sunday. They are encouraged to combine their work with attending religious services if possible.[ citation needed ]

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Sunday begins at the Little Entrance of Vespers (or All-Night Vigil) on Saturday evening and runs until "Vouchsafe, O Lord" (after the "prokeimenon") of Vespers on Sunday night. During this time, the dismissal at all services begin with the words, "May Christ our True God, who rose from the dead ...." Anyone who wishes to receive Holy Communion at Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning is required to attend Vespers the night before (see Eucharistic discipline). Among Orthodox Christians, Sunday is considered to be a "Little Pascha" (Easter), and because of the Paschal joy, the making of prostrations is forbidden, except in certain circumstances. Leisure activities and idleness, being secular and offensive to Christ as they are time-wasting, are prohibited.[ dubious ]

Some languages lack separate words for "Saturday" and "Sabbath" (e. g. Italian, Portuguese). Outside the English-speaking world, Sabbath as a word, if it is used, refers to the Saturday (or the specific Jewish practices on it); Sunday is called the Lord's Day e. g. in Romance languages and Modern Greek. On the other hand, English-speaking Christians often refer to the Sunday as the Sabbath (other than Seventh-day Sabbatarians); a practice which, probably due to the international connections and the Latin tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, is more widespread among (but not limited to) Protestants. Quakers traditionally referred to Sunday as "First Day" eschewing the pagan origin of the English name, while referring to Saturday as the "Seventh day". [17]

Some Christian denominations, called "Seventh-day Sabbatarians", observe a Saturday Sabbath. Christians in the Seventh-day Adventist, Seventh Day Baptist, and Church of God (Seventh-Day) denominations, as well as many Messianic Jews, have maintained the practice of abstaining from work and gathering for worship on Saturdays (sunset to sunset) as did all of the followers of God in the Old Testament.

Sunday in Mandaeism

Sunday in Mandaeism is called Habshaba (Habšaba). Mandaeans perform communal masbuta (baptism) every Sunday. [18]

Common occurrences on Sunday

In government and business

In the United States and Canada, most government offices are closed on both Saturday and Sunday. The practice of offices closing on Sunday in government and in some rural areas of the United States stem from a system of blue laws. Blue laws were established in the early puritan days which forbade secular activities on Sunday and were rigidly enforced. Some public activities are still regulated by these blue laws in the 21st century. [19] In 1985, twenty-two states in which religious fundamentalism remained strong maintained general restrictions on Sunday behavior. [20] In Oklahoma, for example, it is stated: "Oklahoma's statutes state that "acts deemed useless and serious interruptions of the repose and religious liberty of the community," such as trades, manufacturing, mechanical employment, horse racing, and gaming are forbidden. Public selling of commodities other than necessary foods and drinks, medicine, ice, and surgical and burial equipment, and other necessities can legally be prohibited on Sunday. In Oklahoma, a fine not to exceed twenty-five dollars may be imposed on individuals for each offense." [20] Because of these blue laws, many private sector retail businesses open later and close earlier on Sunday or do not open at all.

Many countries, particularly in Europe such as Sweden, France, Germany and Belgium, but also in other countries such as Peru, hold their national and local elections on a Sunday, either by law or by tradition.

In media

Many American and British daily newspapers publish a larger edition on Sundays, which often includes color comic strips, a magazine, and a coupon section. Others only publish on a Sunday, or have a "sister-paper" with a different masthead that only publishes on a Sunday.

North American radio stations often play specialty radio shows such as Casey Kasem's countdown or other nationally syndicated radio shows that may differ from their regular weekly music patterns on Sunday morning or Sunday evening. In the United Kingdom, there is a Sunday tradition of chart shows on BBC Radio 1 and commercial radio; this originates in the broadcast of chart shows and other populist material on Sundays by Radio Luxembourg when the Reithian BBC's Sunday output consisted largely of solemn and religious programmes. The first Sunday chart show was broadcast on the Light Programme on 7 January 1962, [21] which was considered a radical step at the time. BBC Radio 1's chart show moved to Fridays in July 2015 [22] but a chart update on Sundays was launched in July 2019. [23]

Period or older-skewing television dramas, such as Downton Abbey , Call the Midwife , Lark Rise to Candleford and Heartbeat are commonly shown on Sunday evenings in the UK; the first of these was Dr Finlay's Casebook in the 1960s. [24] Similarly, Antiques Roadshow has been shown on Sundays on BBC1 since 1979 [25] and Last of the Summer Wine was shown on Sundays for many years until it ended in 2010. [26] On Sundays, BBC Radio 2 plays music in styles which it once regularly played but which are now rarely heard on the station, with programmes such as Elaine Paige on Sunday [27] and Sunday Night is Music Night [28] although more contemporary styles now make up a higher percentage of the station's Sunday output than previously; for example, Kendrick Lamar received a Sunday-night play on the station in March 2022. [29] Even younger-skewing media outlets sometimes skew older on Sundays within the terms of their own audience; for example, BBC Radio 1Xtra introduced an "Old Skool Sunday" schedule in the autumn of 2019. [30]

Many American, Australian and British television networks and stations also broadcast their political interview shows on Sunday mornings.

In sports

In the United States, National Football League games are usually played on Sunday Eagles Howard and Thomas pointing.jpg
In the United States, National Football League games are usually played on Sunday

Major League Baseball usually schedules all Sunday games in the daytime except for the nationally televised Sunday Night Baseball matchup. Certain historically religious cities such as Boston and Baltimore among others will schedule games no earlier than 1:35 PM to ensure time for people who go to religious service in the morning can get to the game in time.

In the United States, professional American football in the National Football League is usually played on Sunday, although Saturday (via Saturday Night Football ), Monday (via Monday Night Football ), and Thursday (via Thursday Night Football or Thanksgiving) see some professional games. College football usually occurs on Saturday, and high-school football tends to take place on Friday night or Saturday afternoon.

In the UK, some club and Premier League football matches and tournaments usually take place on Sundays. Rugby matches and tournaments usually take place in club grounds or parks on Sunday mornings. It is not uncommon for church attendance to shift on days when a late morning or early afternoon game is anticipated by a local community.

The Indian Premier League schedules two games on Saturdays and Sundays instead of one, also called Double-headers.

One of the remains of religious segregation in the Netherlands is seen in amateur football: The Saturday-clubs are by and large Protestant Christian clubs, who were not allowed to play on Sunday. The Sunday-clubs were in general Catholic and working class clubs, whose players had to work on Saturday and therefore could only play on Sunday.

In Ireland, Gaelic football and hurling matches are predominantly played on Sundays, with the first (used to be second) and fourth (used to be third) Sundays in September always playing host to the All-Ireland hurling and football championship finals, respectively.

Professional golf tournaments traditionally end on Sunday. Traditionally, those in the United Kingdom ended on Saturday, but this changed some time ago; for example, the Open ran from Wednesday to Saturday up to 1979 [31] but has run from Thursday to Sunday since 1980. [32]

In the United States and Canada, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League games, which are usually played at night during the week, are frequently played during daytime hours - often broadcast on national television.

Most NASCAR Cup Series and IndyCar events are held on Sundays. Most Formula One World Championship races are likewise held on Sundays regardless of time zone/country, while MotoGP holds most races on Sundays, with Middle Eastern races being the exception on Saturday. All Formula One events and MotoGP events with Sunday races involve qualifying taking place on Saturday.


Sunday is associated with the Sun and is symbolized by the symbol .

Named days

See also


  1. National, The (2021-12-07). "Which countries have a Friday-Saturday weekend?". The National. Retrieved 2023-11-26.
  2. Lyons, Gabrielle (17 August 2019). "Sunday Vs Monday: Which day do you consider the start of the week?". Australian Broadcasting Corporation . Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  3. Lapsansky, Emma Jones (26 January 2003). Quaker Aesthetics: Reflections on a Quaker Ethic in American Design and Consumption, 1720-1920. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 65. ISBN   978-0-8122-3692-7.
  4. Cf., e.g., Matt. 28:1 at
  5. 1 2 "Monday shall be identified as calendar day [1] of any calendar week, and subsequent calendar days of the same calendar week shall be numbered in ascending sequence to Sunday (calendar day [7])." Further discussion: UK National Physical Laboratory: "Which is the first day of the week? And which is week 1 of the year? (FAQ - Time)": | (Archive here:
  6. Barnhart (1995:778).
  7. "ДНИ НЕДЕЛИ - СЛАВЯНСКАЯ СЕДЬМИЦА" . Retrieved 2013-06-19.
  8. J. R. Stockton. "Calendar Weeks". Archived from the original on 2014-01-13. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
  9. Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2
  10. Martyr, Justin, First Apology , 67.3.
  11. Zerubavel, Eviatar (1989). The Seven Day Circle: The History and Meaning of the Week. University of Chicago Press. p. 45. ISBN   9780226981659.
  12. Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church: Vol. II: From Constantine the Great to Gregory the Great A.D. 311–600 (New York: Charles Scribner, 1867) page 380 note 1.
  13. The Chronography of 354, Part 6: The calendar of Philocalus A–G is the seven day week and A–H is the nundinal cycle.
  14. "Canon 29 of the Council of Laodicea". 2005-06-01. Retrieved 2011-12-16.
  15. Heyck, Thomas (27 September 2013). A History of the Peoples of the British Isles: From 1688 to 1914. Taylor & Francis. p. 251. ISBN   9781134415205. Yet the degree of overlap between the middle class and nonconformity-Baptists, Congregregationalists, Wesleyan Methodists, Quakers, Presbyterians, and Unitarians-was substantial. ... Most nonconformist denominations ...frowned on drink, dancing, and the theater, and they promoted Sabbatarianism (the policy of prohibiting trade and public recreation on Sundays).
  16. Roth, Randolph A. (25 April 2002). The Democratic Dilemma: Religion, Reform, and the Social Order in the Connecticut River Valley of Vermont, 1791-1850. Cambridge University Press. p. 171. ISBN   9780521317733. Except for the strong support of Episcopalians in Windsor and Woodstock, the Sabbatarians found their appeal limited almost exclusively to Congregationalists and Presbyterians, some of whom did not fear state action on religious matters of interdenominational concern.
  17. "Guide to Quaker Calendar Names". Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Retrieved 30 March 2017. In the 20th Century, many Friends began accepting use of the common date names, feeling that any pagan meaning has been forgotten. The numerical names continue to be used, however, in many documents and more formal situations."
  18. Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen (2002). The Mandaeans: ancient texts and modern people. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN   0-19-515385-5. OCLC   65198443.
  19. "Blue law | American history". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  20. 1 2 "Blue Laws | The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture". Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  21. BBC Genome Project - Radio Times listings
  22. Savage, Mark (24 March 2015). "Radio 1 chart show moving to Friday afternoons". BBC News. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  23. Music Week website, 10 July 2019
  24. The Kaleidoscope British Independent Television Drama Research Guide 1955-2010 and The Kaleidoscope BBC Television Drama Research Guide 1936-2011, Kaleidoscope Publishing
  25. "Search Results - BBC Genome" . Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  26. The British Television Comedy Research Guide 1936-2011, Kaleidoscope Publishing, 2011
  27. BBC Radio 2 website - Elaine Paige show from 13 March 2022
  28. BBC Radio 2 website - Sunday Night is Music Night for 27 March 2022
  29. BBC Radio 2 website - My Life in a Mixtape, 20 March 2022
  30. BBC press release, 5 August 2019
  31. Radio Times listing - Wednesday 18 July 1979
  32. Radio Times listing - Sunday 20 July 1980


Further reading

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The seventh-day Sabbath, observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening, is an important part of the beliefs and practices of seventh-day churches. These churches emphasize biblical references such as the ancient Hebrew practice of beginning a day at sundown, and the Genesis creation narrative wherein an "evening and morning" established a day, predating the giving of the Ten Commandments. They hold that the Old and New Testament show no variation in the doctrine of the Sabbath on the seventh day. Saturday, or the seventh day in the weekly cycle, is the only day in all of scripture designated using the term Sabbath. The seventh day of the week is recognized as Sabbath in many languages, calendars, and doctrines, including those of Catholic, Lutheran, and Orthodox churches.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Biblical Sabbath</span> Weekly day of rest or time of worship given in the Bible as the seventh day

The Sabbath is a weekly day of rest or time of worship given in the Bible as the seventh day. It is observed differently in Judaism and Christianity and informs a similar occasion in several other faiths. Observation and remembrance of Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments considered to be the fourth in Judaism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and most Protestant traditions, and the third in Roman Catholic and Lutheran traditions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sabbatarianism</span> View within Christianity that advocates the observation of the Sabbath

Sabbatarianism advocates the observation of the Sabbath in Christianity, in keeping with the Ten Commandments.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Puritan Sabbatarianism</span> Devotion of the entire Sabbath to worship and avoidance of recreational activities

Puritan Sabbatarianism or Reformed Sabbatarianism, often just Sabbatarianism, is observance of Sabbath in Christianity that is typically characterised by devotion of the entire day to worship, and consequently the avoidance of recreational activities.