A week is a time unit equal to seven days. It is the standard time period used for cycles of work days and rest days in most parts of the world, mostly alongside (but not strictly part of) the Gregorian calendar.
The days of the week were named in different languages after classical planets, various deities (example: Thursday – Thor's day, a variation after Jupiter's day from Roman times) and heavenly bodies (example: Sunday – Sun's day) and other sources. In English, the names are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
ISO 8601 includes the ISO week date system, a numbering system for weeks within a given year – each week begins on a Monday and is associated with the year that contains that week's Thursday (so that if a year starts in a long weekend Friday–Sunday, week number one of the year will start after that).
The term "week" is sometimes expanded to refer to other time units comprising a few days, such as the nundinal cycle of the ancient Roman calendar.
- 1 Definition and duration
- 2 Name
- 3 Days of the week
- 4 History
- 5 Week numbering
- 6 "Weeks" in other calendars
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
Definition and duration
- 1 week = 7 days = 168 hours = 10,080 minutes = 604,800 seconds.
With respect to the Gregorian calendar:
- 1 Gregorian calendar year = 52 weeks + 1 day (2 days in a leap year)
- 1 week = 1600⁄6957 ≈ 22.9984% of an average Gregorian month
In a Gregorian mean year, there are 365.2425 days, and thus exactly 52 71⁄400 or 52.1775 weeks (unlike the Julian year of 365.25 days or 52 5⁄28 ≈ 52.1786 weeks, which cannot be represented by a finite decimal expansion). There are exactly 20,871 weeks in 400 Gregorian years, so 30 April 1611 was a Saturday just like 30 April 2011. A system of Dominical letters has been used to determine the day of week in the Gregorian or the Julian calendar.
Relative to the path of the Moon, a week is 23.659% of an average lunation, or 94.637% of an average quarter lunation. In antiquity, days were measured either from sunset to sunset, or from sunrise to sunrise, so that the length of the week (and the day) would be subject to slight variations depending on the time of year and the observer's geographical latitude.
For example, the Julian day number of 4 August 2020 is 2459066. Calculating (2459066 mod 7 + 1) yields 2, corresponding to Tuesday.
The English word week comes from the Old English wice, ultimately from a Common Germanic *wikōn-, from a root *wik- "turn, move, change". The Germanic word probably had a wider meaning prior to the adoption of the Roman calendar, perhaps "succession series", as suggested by Gothic wikō translating taxis "order" in Luke 1:8.
The seven-day week is named in many languages by a word derived from "seven", such as the Latin septimana and its derivatives in Romance languages. In English, there is the archaic term sennight (also sennight or se'night), an abbreviation of "seven-night" (comparable in structure to the word "fortnight"), still in use in the early 19th century, to judge from Jane Austen's letters.
Days of the week
The days of the week were originally named for the classical planets. This naming system persisted alongside an "ecclesiastical" tradition of numbering the days, in ecclesiastical Latin beginning with dominica (the Day of the Lord) as the first day. The Greco-Roman gods associated with the classical planets were rendered in their interpretatio germanica at some point during the late Roman Empire, yielding the Germanic tradition of names based on indigenous deities.
The ordering of the weekday names are not that of the classical order of the planets (sorted by distance in the planetary spheres model, or, equivalently, by their apparent speed of movement in the night sky). Instead, the planetary hours systems resulted in succeeding days being named for planets that are three places apart in their traditional listing. This characteristic was apparently discussed in Plutarch in a treatise written in c. AD 100, which is reported to have addressed the question of Why are the days named after the planets reckoned in a different order from the actual order? (the text of Plutarch's treatise has been lost).
|Latin:||dies Sōlis||dies Lūnae||dies Martis||dies Mercuriī||dies Iovis||dies Veneris||dies Saturnī|
An ecclesiastical, non-astrological, system of numbering the days of the week was adopted in Late Antiquity. This model also seems to have influenced (presumably via Gothic) the designation of Wednesday as "mid-week" in Old High German (mittawehha) and Old Church Slavonic (срѣда). Old Church Slavonic may also modelled the name of Monday, понєдѣльникъ, after the Latin feria secunda. The ecclesiastical system became prevalent in Eastern Christianity, but in the Latin West it remains extant only in modern Icelandic, Galician and Portuguese.
|1. Sunday (Day of the Lord)||2. Monday||3. Tuesday||4. Wednesday||5. Thursday||6. Friday||7. Saturday (Sabbath)|
|Latin||[dies] dominica; rarely feria prima, feria dominica||feria secunda||feria tertia||feria quarta; rarely media septimana||feria quinta||feria sexta||Sabbatum; dies sabbatinus, dies Sabbati,; rarely feria septima, feria Sabbati|
While the seven-day cycle may have deep historical origins in the Ancient Near East, the "planetary theory" of horoscopy is a development of Babylonian astrology roughly around 500 BC, with the oldest extant horoscope dated to just before 400 BC.
The seven-day week being approximately a quarter of a lunation has been proposed (e.g. by Friedrich Delitzsch) as the implicit, astronomical origin of the seven-day week, and indeed the Babylonian calendar used intercalary days to synchronize the last week of a month with the new moon.
The seven-day week seems to have been adopted (independently) by the Persian Empire, in Judaism and in Hellenistic astrology, and (via Greek transmission) in Gupta India and Tang China. The Babylonian system was received by the Greeks in the 4th century BC (notably via Eudoxus of Cnidus). But the designation of the seven days of the week to the seven planets does not seem to have any Babylonian precedent and is rather an original innovation of Hellenistic astrology, probably first conceived in the 2nd century BC. It was widely known throughout the Roman Empire by the 1st century AD, and ultimately replaced the older Roman system of the nundinal cycle during the 4th century.
Ancient Near East
The earliest evidence of an astrological significance of a seven-day period is connected to Gudea, priest-king of Lagash in Sumer during the Gutian dynasty, who built a seven-room temple, which he dedicated with a seven-day festival. In the flood story of the Assyro-Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh the storm lasts for seven days, the dove is sent out after seven days, and the Noah-like character of Utnapishtim leaves the ark seven days after it reaches firm ground.
It seems likely that the Hebrew seven-day week is based on the Babylonian tradition, although going through certain adaptations. George Aaron Barton speculated that the seven-day creation account of Genesis is connected to the Babylonian creation epic, Enuma Elish, which is recorded on seven tablets. 
Babylonians[year needed] celebrated a holy day every seven days, starting from the new moon, then the first visible crescent of the Moon, but adjusted the number of days of the final "week" in each month so that months would continue to commence on the new moon.
Counting from the new moon, the Babylonians celebrated the 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th as "holy-days", also called "evil days" (meaning "unsuitable" for prohibited activities). On these days, officials were prohibited from various activities and common men were forbidden to "make a wish", and at least the 28th was known as a "rest-day". On each of them, offerings were made to a different god and goddess.
In a frequently-quoted suggestion going back to the early 20th century[by whom?] the Hebrew Sabbath is compared to the Sumerian sa-bat "mid-rest", a term for the full moon. The Sumerian term has been reconstructed as rendered Sapattum or Sabattum in Babylonian, possibly present in the lost fifth tablet of the Enûma Eliš, tentatively reconstructed[according to whom?] "[Sa]bbath shalt thou then encounter, mid[month]ly"..
The Zoroastrian calendar follows the Babylonian in relating the seventh and other days of the month to Ahura Mazda. The forerunner of all modern Zoroastrian calendars is the system used to reckon dates in the Persian Empire, adopted from the Babylonian calendar by the 4th century BC.
Frank C. Senn in his book Christian Liturgy: Catholic and Evangelical points to data suggesting evidence of an early continuous use of a seven-day week; referring to the Jews during the Babylonian Captivity in the 6th century BC, after the destruction of the Temple of Solomon. While the seven-day week in Judaism is tied to Creation account in the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible (where God creates the heavens and the earth in six days and rests on the seventh; Genesis 1:1-2:3, in the Book of Exodus, the fourth of the Ten Commandments is to rest on the seventh day, Shabbat, which can be seen as implying a socially instituted seven-day week), it is not clear whether the Genesis narrative predates the Babylonian Captivity of the Jews in the 6th century BC. At least since the Second Temple period under Persian rule, Judaism relied on the seven-day cycle of recurring Sabbaths
Tablets from the Achaemenid period indicate that the lunation of 29 or 30 days basically contained three seven-day weeks, and a final week of eight or nine days inclusive, breaking the continuous seven-day cycle. The Babylonians additionally celebrated the 19th as a special "evil day", the "day of anger", because it was roughly the 49th day of the (preceding) month, completing a "week of weeks", also with sacrifices and prohibitions.
Difficulties with Friedrich Delitzsch's origin theory connecting Hebrew Shabbat with the Babylonian lunar cycle include reconciling the differences between an unbroken week and a lunar week, and explaining the absence of texts naming the lunar week as Shabbat in any language.
Hellenistic and Roman era
In Jewish sources by the time of the Septuagint, the term "Sabbath" (Greek Sabbaton) by synecdoche also came to refer to an entire seven-day week, the interval between two weekly Sabbaths. Jesus's parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:12) describes the Pharisee as fasting "twice in the week" (Greek δὶς τοῦ σαββάτου dis tou sabbatou).
The ancient Romans traditionally used the eight-day nundinal cycle, but after the Julian calendar had come into effect in 45 BC, the seven-day week came into use. For a while, the week and the nundinal cycle coexisted, but by the time the week was officially adopted by Constantine in AD 321, the nundinal cycle had fallen out of use. The association of the days of the week with the Sun, the Moon and the five planets visible to the naked eye dates to the Roman era (2nd century). 
The continuous seven-day cycle of the days of the week can be traced back to the reign of Augustus; the first identifiable date cited complete with day of the week is 6 February 60, identified as a "Sunday" (as viii idus Februarius dies solis "eighth day before the ides of February, day of the Sun") in a Pompeiian graffito. According to the currently-used Julian calendar, 6 February 60 was, however, a Wednesday. This is explained by the existence of two conventions of naming days of the weeks based on the planetary hours system: 6 February was a "Sunday" based on the sunset naming convention, and a "Wednesday" based on the sunrise naming convention.
Adoption in Asia
The earliest known reference in Chinese writings to a seven-day week is attributed to Fan Ning, who lived in the late 4th century in the Jin Dynasty, while diffusions from the Manichaeans are documented with the writings of the Chinese Buddhist monk Yi Jing and the Ceylonese or Central Asian Buddhist monk Bu Kong of the 7th century (Tang Dynasty).
The Chinese variant of the planetary system was soon brought to Japan by the Japanese monk Kobo Daishi. Surviving diaries of the Japanese statesman Fujiwara Michinaga show the seven-day system in use in Heian Japan as early as 1007. In Japan, the seven-day system was kept in use for astrological purposes until its promotion to a full-fledged Western-style calendrical basis during the Meiji era.
The seven-day week was known in India by the 6th century, referenced in the Pañcasiddhāntikā.. Shashi (2000) mentions the Garga Samhita, which he places in the 1st century BC or AD, as a possible earlier reference to a seven-day week in India. He concludes "the above references furnish a terminus ad quem (viz. 1st century) The terminus a quo cannot be stated with certainty".
The seven-day weekly cycle has remained unbroken in Europe for almost two millennia, despite changes to the Alexandrian, Julian, and Gregorian calendars, demonstrated by the date of Easter Sunday having been traced back through numerous computistic tables to an Ethiopic copy of an early Alexandrian table beginning with the Easter of AD 311.
"The Roman context of the spread of Christianity meant that Rome contributed a lot to the structure and calendar of the new faith."
A tradition of divinations arranged for the days of the week on which certain feast days occur develops in the Early Medieval period. There are many later variants of this, including the German Bauern-Praktik and the versions of Erra Pater published in 16th to 17th century England, mocked in Samuel Butler's Hudibras. South and East Slavic versions are known as koliadniki (from koliada, a loan of Latin calendae), with Bulgarian copies dating from the 13th century, and Serbian versions from the 14th century. Medieval Christian traditions associated with the lucky or unlucky nature of certain days of the week survived into the modern period. This concerns primarily Friday, associated with the crucifixion of Jesus. Sunday, sometimes personified as Saint Anastasia, was itself an object of worship in Russia, a practice denounced in a sermon extant in copies going back to the 14th century.
Sunday, in the ecclesiastical numbering system also counted as the feria prima or the first day of the week; yet, at the same time, figures as the "eighth day", and has occasionally been so called in Christian liturgy. 
Justin Martyr wrote: "the first day after the Sabbath, remaining the first of all the days, is called, however, the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle, and [yet] remains the first".
A period of eight days, starting and ending on a Sunday, is called an octave, particularly in Roman Catholic liturgy. In German, the phrase in acht Tage (literally "in eight days") means one week from today.
Weeks in a Gregorian calendar year can be numbered for each year. This style of numbering is commonly used (for example, by schools and businesses) in some European and Asian countries, but rare elsewhere.
ISO 8601 includes the ISO week date system, a numbering system for weeks – each week begins on a Monday and is associated with the year that contains that week's Thursday (so that if a year starts in a long weekend Friday–Sunday, week number one of the year will start after that). For example, week 1 of 2004 (2004W01) ran from Monday, 29 December 2003 to Sunday, 4 January 2004, because its Thursday was 1 January 2004, whereas week 1 of 2005 (2005W01) ran from Monday, 3 January 2005 to Sunday, 9 January 2005, because its Thursday was 6 January 2005 and so the first Thursday of 2005. The highest week number in a year is either 52 or 53 (it was 53 in the year 2004). Schematically, this ISO convention translates as follows:
|Dates in January||Effect|
|M||T||W||T||F||S||S||Week number||Week assigned to|
|1||2||53 or 52||Previous year|
|System||First day of week||First week of year contains||Can also be last week of previous year||Used by/in|
|ISO-8601||Monday||4 January||1st Thursday||4–7 days of year||no||EU and most of other European countries, most of Asia and Oceania|
|(Islamic)||Saturday||1 January||1st Friday||1–7 days of year||yes||Much of the Middle East|
|(North American)||Sunday||1 January||1st Saturday||1–7 days of year||yes||Canada, USA, China, Japan, Israel, South Africa, most of Latin America|
The semiconductor package date code is often a 4 digit date code YYWW where the first two digits YY are the last 2 digits of the calendar year and the last two digits WW are the two-digit week number.
"Weeks" in other calendars
The term "week" is sometimes expanded to refer to other time units comprising a few days. Such "weeks" of between four and ten days have been used historically in various places. Intervals longer than 10 days are not usually termed "weeks" as they are closer in length to the fortnight or the month than to the seven-day week.
Calendars unrelated to the Chaldean, Hellenistic, Christian or Jewish traditions often have time cycles between the day and the month of varying lengths, sometimes also called "weeks".
An eight-day week was used in Ancient Rome and possibly in the pre-Christian Celtic calendar. Traces of a nine-day week are found in Baltic languages and in Welsh. The ancient Chinese calendar had a ten-day week, as did the ancient Egyptian calendar (and, incidentally, the French Republican Calendar, dividing its 30-days months into thirds).
A six-day week is found in the Akan Calendar. Several cultures used a five-day week, including the 10th century Icelandic calendar, the Javanese calendar, and the traditional cycle of market days in Korea. The Igbo have a "market week" of four days. Evidence of a "three-day week" has been derived from the names of the days of the week in Guipuscoan Basque.
The Aztecs divided a ritual cycle of 260 days, known as Tonalpohualli, into 20 weeks of 13 days known as Trecena. They also divided the solar year into 18 periods of 20 days and five nameless days known as Nemontemi, creating a "20-day month" divided into four "five-day weeks". The Maya divided a 260-day ritual cycle known Tzolk'in into 20 weeks of 13 days known as Trecena. The Maya also divided the year, Haab', into 18 periods of 20 days, Uinal and five nameless days known as Wayeb'.
Modern calendar reforms
A 10-day week, called décade, was used in France for nine and a half years from October 1793 to April 1802; furthermore, the Paris Commune adopted the Revolutionary Calendar for 18 days in 1871.
The International Fixed Calendar (also known as the "Eastman plan") fixed every date always on the same weekday. This plan kept a 7-day week while defining a year of 13 months with 28 days each. It was the official calendar of the Eastman Kodak Company for decades.
Between 1929 and 1931, the USSR changed from the seven-day week to a five-day week. There were 72 weeks and an additional five national holidays inserted within three of them, totaling a year of 365 days. In 1931, after its brief experiment with a five-day week, the Soviet Union changed to a six-day week. Every sixth day (6th, 12th, 18th, 24th and 30th) of the Gregorian Calendar was a state rest day. The five additional national holidays in the earlier five-day week remained and did not fall on the state rest day. But, as January, March, May, July, August, October and December have 31 days, the week after the state rest day of the 30th was seven days long (31st–7th). This extra day was a working day for most or an extra holiday for others. Also as February is only 28 or 29 days depending on whether it is a leap year or not, the first of March was also made a state rest day, although not every enterprise conformed to this. To clarify, the week after the state rest day, 24/25 February to 1 March, was only five or six days long, depending on whether it was a leap year or not. The week after that, 2 to 6 March, was only five days long. The calendar was abandoned 26 June 1940 and the seven-day week reintroduced the next day.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Week.|
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- Max Vasmer, Russisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, s.v. понедельник; however, the Slavic languages later introduced a secondary numbering system that names Tuesday as the "second day".
- the latter specifically due to the influence of Martin of Braga, 6th-century archbishop of Braga. Richard A. Fletcher (1999). The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity. University of California Press. p. 257. ISBN 978-0-520-21859-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> McKenna, Stephen (1938). "Pagan Survivals in Galicia in the Sixth Century". Paganism and Pagan Survivals in Spain Up to the Fall of the Visigothic Kingdom. Catholic University of America. pp. 93–94. Retrieved 20 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "day of preparation", i.e. the day before Sabbath, c.f. Luke 23:54 (καὶ ἡμέρα ἦν Παρασκευῆς, καὶ σάββατον ἐπέφωσκεν.)
- Eviatar Zerubavel, The Seven Day Circle: The History and Meaning of the Week, University of Chicago Press, 1989 , p. 14.
- Leland, S. Copeland (April 1939). "Sources of the Seven-Day Week". Popular Astronomy. XLVII (4): 176 ff. Bibcode:1939PA.....47..175C.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- a month consisted of three seven-day weeks and a fourth week of eight or nine days, thus breaking the seven-day cycle every month. Consequently, there is no evidence that the days of the week were given individual names in Babylonian tradition. Pinches, T.G. (2003). "Sabbath (Babylonian)". In Hastings, James (ed.). Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. 20. Selbie, John A., contrib. Kessinger Publishing. pp. 889–891. ISBN 978-0-7661-3698-4. Retrieved 17 March 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- It was transmitted to China in the 8th century by Manichaeans, via the country of Kang (a Central Asian polity near Samarkand). Tang-era adoption is documented in the writings of the Chinese Buddhist monk Yi Jing and the Ceylonese Buddhist monk Bu Kong. According to the Chinese encyclopaedia Cihai (辞海), there is some evidence that the system had been adopted twice, the first time already in the 4th century (Jin dynasty), based on a reference by a Jin era astrologer, Fan Ning (範寧 / 范宁). The Cihai under the entry for "seven luminaries calendar" (七曜历/七曜曆, qī yào lì) has: "method of recording days according to the seven luminaries [七曜 qī yào]. China normally observes the following order: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn. Seven days make one week, which is repeated in a cycle. Originated in ancient Babylon (or ancient Egypt according to one theory). Used by the Romans at the time of the 1st century AD, later transmitted to other countries. This method existed in China in the 4th century. It was also transmitted to China by Manichaeans in the 8th century from the country of Kang (康) in Central Asia." (translation after Bathrobe's Days of the Week in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese, plus Mongolian and Buryat (cjvlang.com)
- indeed, the Babylonian planets were not listed in the same order, but by order of precedence of the associated deity, Marduk (Jupiter), Ishtar (Venus), Ninurta (Saturn), Nabu (Mercury) and Nergal (Mars).
- Leland, S. Copeland (April 1939). "Sources of the Seven-Day Week". Popular Astronomy. XLVII (4): 176. Bibcode:1939PA.....47..175C.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Copeland (1939) cites as the date for Gudea "as early as 2600 BC"; the modern estimate according to the short chronology places Gudea in the 22nd century BC. By contrast, Anthony R. Michaelis in "The Enigmatic Seven ", Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 7, p. 373 claims that "the first great empire builder, King Sargon I of Akkad ([ruled] 2335 to 2279 BC [viz., middle chronology]), decreed a seven-day week in his empire. He lived for 56 years, established the first Semitic Dynasty, and defeated the Sumerian City States. Thus the Akkadian language spread, it was adopted by the Babylonians, and the seven-day week was similarly inherited from him." An article from The Economist of 20 December 2001, titled The power of seven, talks about the significance of the number seven in Sumerian mythology.
- "Each account is arranged in a series of sevens, the Babylonian in seven tablets, the Hebrew in seven days. Each of them places the creation of man in the sixth division of its series." cited after: Albert T. Clay, The Origin of Biblical Traditions: Hebrew Legends in Babylonia and Israel, 1923, p. 74.
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- William Francis Ryan, The Bathhouse at Midnight: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia, Penn State Press, 1999 p. 383.
- This is just a reflection of the system of ordinal numbers in Greek and Latin, compare the nundinal cycle (literally "nine-days" cycle, describing an eight-day week) of the Roman calendar, or the Resurrection of Jesus (after a period of less than 48 hours) being described as happening on the "third day"
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- Astronomy and Basque Language, Henrike Knörr, Oxford VI and SEAC 99 "Astronomy and Cultural Diversity", La Laguna, June 1999. It references Alessandro Bausani, 1982, The prehistoric Basque week of three days: archaeoastronomical notes, The Bulletin of the Center for Archaeoastronomy (Maryland), v. 2, 16-22. 1. astelehena ("week-first", Monday), 2. asteartea ("week-between", Tuesday), 3. asteazkena ("week-last", Wednesday).
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