Why is Sunday the First Day of the Week?

Alex Williams
5 Min Read

Why is Sunday the first day of the week? Did you know Sunday is the first day of the week in some regions of the world but the last day of the week for others? Sunday has been our favorite day of the week since childhood. We would wait the whole week just for Sundays as these are weekly holidays. From a religious point of view, what is the first day of the week in the Bible?

1. Why Do Calendars Start with Sunday?

Babylonian Empire is located in modern-day Iraq. Existing between 1895 BCE and 539 BCE, this was one of the most prominent civilizations. They closely observed the movement of heavenly bodies and proffered a concept of seven days in a week when they discovered seven heavenly bodies in space. Since then, the number seven is deemed to be of significance. The planets they noted were Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. They considered the Sun to be the most auspicious, so this might have been the reason why is Sunday the first day of the week. (See How Many Seconds Are There In An Hour)

2. How Was the Name Sunday Derived?

While the Babylonians followed a 7-day week, Egyptians followed a 10-day week, and the Romans opted for an 8-day week or Nundinal Cycle. All civilizations divided their calendars into years, months, weeks, and days by observing the movement of celestial bodies. Almost every language used around the world derived the word Sunday from the phrase Day of Sun. So basically, Sunday is the day of the Sun which marks the beginning of a new week, just like a new day starts with Sunrise. Other weekdays and their associated heavenly bodies were:

  • Monday – Moon,
  • Tuesday – Mars,
  • Wednesday – Mercury,
  • Thursday – Jupiter,
  • Friday – Venus, and
  • Saturday – Saturn.

3. What is the First Day of the Week in the Bible?

Sunday has been regarded as the first day of the week because of religious reasons too. According to the Bible, God rested on Saturday after he had created the world, as mentioned in Genesis 2:3. So, Christians observed Sunday as the day of worship and rest. Moreover, Jesus resurrected on the day after Sabbath (Saturday), which means on Sunday, according to Acts 20:7. Thus, both Jews and Christians regarded Sunday as the first day of the week. This explains why is Sunday the first day of the week. (Also see Why Hitler hated Jews?)

4. Why is Sunday a Public Holiday?

Since the Greeks considered Sunday as the Lord’s Day. Hence, in 321 AD, Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire declared a seven-day week as the official week, with Sunday becoming a public holiday. Centuries later, when Alexander began his conquest of the world, he spread Greek culture through his path, beginning from Macedonia journeying East until India. The concept of the seven days in this order is believed to have developed like this. Since Greek and Roman are foundational civilizations for the West, time was divided in the same way throughout the world with Sunday being a public holiday in most countries. (See Why Do We Have Different Time Zones?)

5. Which Places Observe Sunday as the First Day?

Most places where Christians, Romans, and Jews reside consider Sundays as the first day of the week. The United States, Canada, most parts of South America, China, Japan, Australia, and the Philippines officially consider Sunday to start the week. Additionally, the industrial standards and workplace expectations of these countries are also the reason for the query of why do calendars start with Sunday. (See Does Amazon Prime Deliver on Sundays)

Even though ISO 8601 states that Monday is the first day of the week, still people continue to believe otherwise. This answers why is Sunday the first day of the week.

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