In the current scenario where people are lost in the daily rut of a 9-5 work week, it is the precious two-day weekend that everyone looks forward to rejuvenating themselves and be sane. In the 21st-century people are working more than any other time in the history coupled with sedentary lifestyle makes it even more compelling for the need for a relaxed weekend. However, the people working 200 years ago weren’t so lucky as our generation. The article by Science of Us , the modern weekend began to emerge only in the recent history during the industrial revolution – the credit of which goes to our hard-partying predecessors.
A recent video by the Discovery website seeker shows us how the two-day weekend came up in bits and pieces after pressure from culture, society, labor unions and most importantly the need to deal with the drunk employees.
Reserving a day of the week for rest and worship known as a Sabbath Day is an ancient tradition which is still practiced today. But just a one day weekend during the industrial revolution forced the Britons to squeeze out fun and rest only in a span of one day. The fun and debauchery, of course, included drinking which leads to the problem of employees turning up late and drunk on the first day of the work week or in some cases just stay at home. This widespread problem came to be known as “Saint Monday”: skipping work on Monday to recover from the previous day’s enjoyment.
This problem became so common in the 19th century that many employers started giving half days on Saturdays as a compromise in order to increase productivity on Monday. It was in 1908 when a factory in America declared Saturdays as official holiday out of respect for the Jewish Sabbath, and soon more employers started to follow the trend. Moreover pressure from the newly formed labor unions and religious groups which wanted to respect the tradition of Sabbath and keep Sundays holy forced the employers to reform the work week. Thus the 40 hour work week was officially made compulsory with the passing of The Fair Labor Standards Act 1938.
An article by the Atlantic in 1991 explained the reasons how plenty of groups lead to the death of Saint Mondays:
“Religious groups campaigned against the tradition, which they saw as linked to the drinking and dissipation that, in their eyes, dishonored the Sabbath. They were joined by middle-class social reformers and by proponents of rational recreation, who also had an interest in altering Sunday behavior. By the end of the century many shops and factories had begun closing on Saturday afternoons, leaving a half-holiday for household chores and social activities an evening at the dance hall or the pub and permitting Sunday to be used exclusively for prayer and sober recreations… Half Saturdays and shorter workdays became the pattern followed by all later labor negotiations, and by legislation governing the length of the workday.”
Thus it shows how the weekend expanded from just a day to a day and a half and finally the common two day weekend. While the two-day weekend is a fairly recent phenomenon but many labor unions across the globe are commissioning to extend it even longer. Well, that doesn’t sound that it’ll happen anytime soon, but let’s keep our fingers crossed.