Translation:Sunday is the last day of the week.
Actually, this is important because other days' names are derived from numerals. «Вто́рник» comes from «второ́й» 'second', «четве́рг» comes from «четвёртый» 'fourth', «пя́тница» comes from «пя́тый» 'fifth'. It wouldn't make sense if we start counting on Sunday.
Not all of them come from numerals:
- «понеде́льник» is from по + неде́ля 'week'¹,
- «среда́» is from «сре́дний» 'middle',
- «суббо́та» is a loanword (related to the English 'Sabbath'),
- «воскресе́нье» is from «воскресе́ние» 'Resurrection' (originally it referred to Easter/Resurrection Sunday only, but got to mean any Sunday in modern Russian).
¹ Originally «неделя» meant Sunday (from не 'not' + делать 'do', because people don't work on Sundays), so «понеде́льник» meant something like 'day after the Sunday'. But in modern Russian «неде́ля» means 'week'.
Thank you for the additional information, that's definitely going to help me remember these as I'm struggling a bit with them.
I did wonder if суббота was related to Sabbath (It seems like almost every time you find two of the same letter together in a Russian word, it's a loanword from somewhere.)
среда́=middle; funny thing is, Wednesday is in the middle only if you consider Sunday the first and Saturday the last day of the week. (Or, of course, if you belong to the privileged few that enjoy the luxury of not working weekends and thus perceiving the work week as an entity by itself.)
The concept of the working week as entity by itself is neither new nor restricted to few people. My grandma grew up in a village and she always insisted on us not working on Sundays when we stayed in her village. She explained this by religion: on Sunday you're expected to go to church and not to work. Since there was much more religious people in the past, I believe this was more strictly observed.
Only a few enjoy the luxury of having a true weekend (=not only Sundays but also Saturdays off), and thus having Wednesdays in the middle of their working weeks. Of course I know that Sunday as a holy day that you use to worship instead of to work is a widespread and old phenomenon.
Chinese has a Russian-like numbering.
Originally, Sunday is 禮拜日 [láihbaai-yaht] 'Church service day', Monday is 禮拜一 [láihbaai-yāt] 'first [from] church service', Friday is 禮拜五 [láihbaai-ńgh] 'fifth [from] church service' etc.
Not liking the Christian origin of the week-day names, Chinese people replaced 禮拜 [láihbaai] with 星期 [sīngkèih] 'stellar period'. This works for 星期一 [sīngkèih-yāt] 'first of stellar period'... but Sunday became 星期日 [sīngkèih-yaht] 'stellar period day', which doesn't really make any sense.
Yes, the week starts with Monday in Russian-speaking countries. Some names for the days of the week are derived from the numbers:
- вто́рник ‘Tuesday’ is related to второ́й ‘second’,
- четве́рг ‘Thursday’ is related to четы́ре ‘four’,
- пя́тница ‘Friday’ is related to пять ‘five’.
Here’s how the calendar for the current month looks like: