The Weekend

Saturday & Sunday

Has the weekend always been the weekend? Well, no actually. The days of the week were there but people, with the exception of a Sabbath observance usually just worked right through. So how did this change? It has to do with the amount of hours worked in a week and how it dropped gradually over time. As many Western workplaces began to make changes that allowed for Sunday worship that left Saturday in question.

In the U.S., Henry Ford began to standardize the 5-day workweek without changing the pay of his employees. This, of course, required his competitors to follow suit or lose employees to a better opportunity. Later, FDR signed the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to establish a 40 hour workweek.

The first use of the word “weekend” according to the Oxford English Dictionary was in 1879. It was published in Notes and Queries on November 29th as a question from Clement Gwynne. Did people only call Saturday and Sunday a “week-end” where he lived? This time spent away from work and with friends. He had been told it was so, and was curious about it.

So, while clearly the idea of a weekend was in place for some people, some did not quite have the concept yet. As industry took over more and more, the work week had to be adapted so that people would not be overworked and would want to stay in their jobs. The workweek and weekend balance is a growing thing that continues to change over time.

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