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Sunday (ˈsʌndi orˈsʌndeɪ) is the day of the week between Saturday and Monday. In the Jewish law, Sunday is the first day of the Hebrew calendar week. In most Christian traditions it is considered the "Christian Sabbath", which is a change from seventh-day Sabbath or Jewish Shabbat.[1] For many Christians it began to take the place of Shabbat as the day set apart for the public and solemn worship of God.

Sunday is considered the first day of the week in some countries, including the United States and Japan, although today many countries such as the United Kingdom regard Sunday as the seventh day, at least in the working week and the civil week.[2]

Sunday is considered a non-working day in many countries of the world, and is part of 'the weekend'. Countries predominantly influenced by Jewish or Islamic religions have Friday or Saturday as a weekly non-working day instead.

The Gregorian calendar repeats every 400 years, and no century starts on a Sunday. The Jewish New Year never falls on a Sunday. Only those months beginning on a Sunday will contain a Friday the 13th.


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, and Swedish söndag). The Germanic term is a Germanic interpretation of Latin dies solis ("day of the sun"), which is a translation of the Greek heméra helíou.[3] The p-Celtic Welsh language also translates the Latin "day of the sun" as dydd Sul.

In most of the Indian Languages, the word for Sunday is Ravivar and Adityavar, with Aditya or Ravi being the Sanskrit names for the Sun. Ravivaar is first day cited in Nakshtra Jyotish. Nakshtra Jyotish provides logical reason for giving the name of each week day.

The first Christian reference to Sunday is found in the First Apology of St. Justin Martyr (c. 150 AD). In a well-known passage of the Apology (Chapter 67), Justin describes the Christian custom of gathering for worship on Sunday. "And on the day called Sunday [τῇ τοῦ ῾Ηλίου λεγομένη ἡμέρᾳ], all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits . . .", he writes. Evidently Justin used the term Sunday because he was writing to a non-Christian, pagan audience. In Justin's time, Christians usually called Sunday the Lord's Day because they observed it as a weekly memorial of Jesus Christ's resurrection.[4] The Roman Catholic Church believes that the resurrection of Christ occurred on the day following seventh-day Sabbath, which is Sunday, and makes it a portal to timeless eternity that transcends the seven-day weekly cycle.[5][6]

Position in the week

The official ISO 8601 Calendar Standard states that Monday is the first day of the week. In the Judeo-Christian tradition Sunday has been considered as the first day of the week. In European countries calendars almost always show Monday as the first day of the week.[7] There are also countries where both types of calendar can be found, which causes trouble for computer software that attempts to determine a user's calendrical preferences based purely on their location.

A number of languages appear to reflect Sunday's status as the first day of the week. In Greek, the names of the days Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (Δευτέρα, Τρίτη, Τετάρτη, and Πέμπτη) mean "second", "third", "fourth", and "fifth", respectively. This suggests that Sunday was once counted as Πρώτη, that is, "first". The current Greek name for Sunday, Κυριακή, means "Lord's Day". A similar system of naming days of the week occurs in Portuguese. Monday is segunda-feira, which means "second day", also showing Sunday (domingo) to be counted as the first day. Similarly modern Latin uses "feria secunda" for Monday.

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).

Slavic languages use day-numbers that implicitly number Monday as 1, not 2. For example, Polish has czwartek (4) for Thursday and piątek (5) for Friday. [Hungarian péntek (Friday) is a cognate of this, although, Hungarian not being a Slavonic or even Indo-European language, the correlation with "5" is not evident to a Hungarian speaker].

Sunday and Sabbath

Christians from very early times have had differences of opinion on the question of whether Sabbath should be observed on a Saturday or a Sunday. The issue does not arise for Jews, for whom Shabbat is unquestionably on Saturday, nor for Muslims whose day of assembly (jumu'ah) is on a Friday.

The first given evidence for a differentiation, between traditional Jewish Shabbat observance and the religious observance of the first day of the week, appears in Acts 20:7 where the disciples met and "broke bread" together. Some believe this was a participation in the ordinance of the sacrament. (In previous verses, the Days of Unleavened Bread had just ended, including Passover, so it could not have been the anniversary commemoration, but it could have been a communion service done in remembrance.) Seventh-day Sabbatarians say that the believers met on all days of the week to "break bread" together for the sake of meals and fellowship, such as in Acts 2:46, regarding the incident in Acts 20:7 as nothing outside of usual practice.

Col. 2:16 suggests that early Christians had been judged by others in their traditions of eating foods and in observance of particulars of Sabbath and festivals. Also, the Jews had defined "forty minus one" works to be abstained from on Shabbat, and Jesus and his disciples had been accused of breaking some of these customs during his ministry.

The Apostle John also refers to the "Lord's Day" (kuriake hemera) in Rev. 1:10. Kuriake, meaning "Lord's", later became the Greek word for Sunday. Some early Christians observed Sabbath on Saturday, though resting on Saturday was prohibited by the church in 363 A.D.; over the first centuries an increasing number of Christians gathered for worship on Sunday.

The Roman calendar included the day of the Sun [Latin dies Solis] for worship of the sun (see Sol Invictus). On 7 March 321, Constantine I, Rome's first Christian Emperor, decreed that Sunday (dies Solis) would be observed as the Roman day of rest [CJ3.12.2]:

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 suitable for grain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost. [8]

Many Christians today consider Sunday to be Sabbath, a holy day and a day of rest and church-attendance. Denominations which observe Saturday as Sabbath are called "Sabbatarians"; however, the name "Sabbatarian" has also been claimed by Christians, especially Protestants, who believe Sunday must be observed with just the sort of rigorous abstinence from work associated with Shabbat. For most Christians the custom and obligation of Sunday rest has not been as strict. A minority of Christians do not regard the day they attend church as important, so long as they attend, as the apostles and desciples gathered on Sundays, on Saturdays, and whenever they could; some of these still regard Sabbath as being Saturday. How strict or lax the particulars of the day vary, though some cessation of normal weekday activities is customary.

In Orthodox Christian families and communities, working and requiring somebody else to work are prohibited (including buying goods or services, use of public transport, driving a car, gardening, washing a car, etc.). Allowed exceptions include religious services, electricity, and urgent medical matters. In Roman Catholicism, those who work in the medical field, those in law enforcement, and soldiers in a war zone are dispensed from the usual obligation to avoid work on Sunday.

The majority of Christians have continued to observe Sabbath on Sunday for practical or personal reasons, although throughout history one sometimes finds Christian groups that continued or revived the observance of Saturday Sabbath. More recently in history, Christians in the Seventh-day Adventist, Seventh Day Baptist, and Church of God (Seventh-Day) denominations (along with many related or similar denominations), as well as many Messianic Jews, have revived the practice of abstaining from work and gathering for worship on Saturdays.

Many languages lack separate words for "Saturday" and "Sabbath". Eastern Orthodox churches, as well as many Roman Catholics, distinguish between Sabbath (Saturday) and Sunday, which some Christians traditionally call the Lord's Day (Rev. 1:10). However, many Protestants and Roman Catholics do refer to Sunday as Sabbath, though this is by no means a universal practice among Protestants and Catholics. Quakers traditionally refer to Sunday as "First Day" eschewing the pagan origin of the English name.

In Roman Catholic liturgy, Sunday begins on Saturday evening. The evening Mass on Saturday is liturgically a full Sunday Mass and fulfils 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 (Shabbat starts on Friday night).

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. The Russian word for Sunday is Voskresenie, meaning "Resurrection day". The Greek word for Sunday is Kyriake (the "Lord's Day").

The Czech, Polish, and Serbian words for Sunday (neděle, niedziela, and недеља, respectively) can be translated as "without acts (work)".

Common occurrences on Sunday

In the United States, professional American football 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 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. 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 England, some club and Premier League football matches and tournaments usually take place on Sunday. 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.

Also in the United States, many federal government buildings are closed on Sunday. Privately owned businesses also tend to close or are open for shorter periods of the day than on other days of the week.

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

Many American and British daily newspapers publish a larger edition on Sundays, which often includes color comic strips, a magazine, and a coupon section.

Most NASCAR Sprint Cup and IndyCar events are held on Sundays. Formula One World Championship races are always held on Sundays regardless of timezone/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.

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.

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 and/or Sunday evening.

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

Professional golf tournaments traditionally end on Sunday.

National and regional elections in Belgium and Peru are always on Sunday, because voting is mandatory

Named days

  • Easter Sunday represents the resurrection of Christ for many Christians.
  • Low Sunday, first Sunday after Easter, is also known as the Octave of Easter, White Sunday, Quasimodo Sunday, Alb Sunday, Antipascha Sunday, and Divine Mercy Sunday.
  • Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter.
  • Passion Sunday, formerly denoting the fifth Sunday of Lent; since 1970 the term applies to the following Sunday also known as Palm Sunday.
  • Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima Sunday are the last three Sundays before Lent. Quinquagesima ("fiftieth"), is the fiftieth day before Easter, reckoning inclusively; but Sexagesima is not the sixtieth day and Septuagesima is not the seventieth but is the sixty-fourth day prior. The use of these terms was abandoned by the Catholic Church in the 1970 calendar reforms (the Sundays before Lent are now simply "Sundays in ordinary time" with no special status). However, their use is still continued in Lutheran tradition: for example, "Septuagesimae".
  • Stir-up Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent.
  • Whitsunday - "White Sunday" is the day of Pentecost.
  • Trinity Sunday is the first Sunday after Pentecost.
  • Gaudete Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent.
  • Laetare Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Lent.
  • Good Shepherd Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Easter.
  • Shavuot is the Jewish Pentecost, or 'Festival of Weeks'. For Karaite Jews it always falls on a Sunday.

See also


  2. For instance, the International Standard ISO 8601, which defines – among other things – the ISO week date. This Monday-to-Sunday week and week-numbering scheme is followed by most commercial calendars printed in Europe.
  3. Barnhart (1995:778).
  4. Alexander Roberts, D.D. & James Donaldson, LL.D., ed. Chapter LXVII.—Weekly worship of the Christians.. Retrieved 2007-01-13. 
  6. "THE THIRD COMMANDMENT". Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition. Retrieved 2007-01-13. 
  7. J. R. Stockton. "Calendar Weeks". Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  8. Given the 7th day of March, Crispus and Constantine being consuls each of them for the second time. Codex Justinianus, lib. 3, tit. 12, 3; translated by Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3 (1902), p. 380, note.


  • Barnhart, Robert K. (1995). The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology. Harper Collins. ISBN 0-06-270084-7
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Sunday. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.