What is German first day of the week?

Is the first day of the week in German Monday, or Sunday? Because for me word "Mittwoch" seems to mean "Middle of the week". Is that the case?

August 7, 2019


We satrt our week on Monday. And yes, Mittwoch divides our working week, which goes from Monday to Friday. Only some kind of professions has to work on the weekend.

August 7, 2019

The days of the week and their names date back to pre-christian names. Nonetheless, according to Christian understanding, God took a rest after he was done creating the world on the seventh day. This alone doesn't answer this question, since the start day of creation is not determined. Sunday is in in most Europe regions (that includes Germany) the traditional day of worship and resting. Hence it's reasonable to assume that Sunday is the seventh day, while Monday marks the start of the week. That's how most Germans perceive it nowadays (although Germany is not a very religious country). In 1975 a German DIN standard (Germans love their rules) made Monday the first day of the week. Before, this question was officially undecided. However, the modern German state always recognized Sunday to be the official holiday of the week.

It shouldn't be unnoticed that many traditional Christians in Germany (like its very common among Christians in the Anglo-Saxon world) still consider Sunday the first day of the week since they either refer to the old testamentary way of counting (which equals the Jewish way – see below) or they consider Sunday the first day, because that's allegedly the day of Jesus' resurrection.

Go and ask however German Jews or Muslims, they will tell you a different story about what they consider their "personal" spiritual last and first day of the week. These minority groups however often need to organize their week according to the majority /slash/ official way of dividing the week. However, I guess herein lies also a possible explanation for Mittwoch. If you consider Saturday to be your Shabbat (hence the 7th day) Mittwoch is indeed right in the middle of the week. I guess our name for Mittwoch is still a remnant of the Jewish way of dividing the week (which is alos congruent with the view of many traditional Christian scholars as illustrated above).

Fun fact: Mittwoch is the only day of the week that is not named after a celestial body or a deity.

Fun fact2: in Portuguese, weekdays are numbered in order (Monday beeing the second day) instead of referring to deities or celestial bodies. That settles this issue for Brazil and Portugal I guess. Cf.

August 7, 2019

And to make things more confusing, Saturday counts as a "Werktag". :D

(It seems that, legally, a distinction is made between an "Arbeitstag", which is what people think of as a work day, and a "Werktag", which is any day that is not a Sunday or a public holiday)

August 7, 2019

Monday was set as the first day of the week by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 2015 in 1976. The US, Canada and Japan don’t follow this standard (updated in ISO 8601 in 1988) and retain Sunday as the first day of the week.

If you are interested, Dan Falk, in his book In Search of Time, describes how the week came to be seven days as well as how they were put in the order they are – at least from a western point of view.

August 8, 2019
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