In the early to mid-1800’s, the week end was just that. Week end. Week end was Saturday night, not Sunday. Sunday was considered the first day of the week, not the week end, week-end or weekend. It was not for work or fun, it was for worship, a day of rest. Now it’s week days and weekend. We call the first day of the week Monday, but it is in fact, Sunday.
There was no such thing as the weekend as we know it until the 1870’s. Workers put in up to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. According to A Weekend History Lesson by Krissy Clark, labor organizers worked with the government to get shorter hours. These kinds of changes did not come easily back then, some protesters lost their lives for publicly speaking about it and others in riots. Men were insisting on having time to do whatever they wanted, whether it be with their families, get more education or just leisure according to historian Michael Feldberg. There is a bumper sticker made by artist Ricardo Levins Morales that says "The labor movement. The folks who brought you the weekend."
The weekend was actually brought about by several things: The unions coming in, pushing for what the History channel calls “a working man’s holiday.” In the 1870’s there just happened to be a lot of Jewish immigrants working in the factories as well and their day of Sabbath was Saturday. The Christian’s day of worship was Sunday, so this worked well to have two days off per week right next to each other, creating the weekend. Other players bringing about the weekend were factory owners such as Henry Ford. Christian Overland of the Henry Ford museum explains it like this: “Ford wanted to sell his Model T. And if people were stuck in factories all week, when are they going to use it? If your workforce is your consumer, you have to give people the time off to buy the things. And to take them out on weekend adventures…”
On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history, according to the history channel.com. A working men’s holiday, Labor Day, the first Monday of September each year. It took 12 more years with many protests, strikes and violent riots before Congress made Labor Day a legal holiday.
When I was growing up in the late 1960’s and 70’s, women stayed at home with the children, they did not often have jobs outside of the home. Wives, mothers kept the house clean and meals made, laundry done during the week while husbands and fathers were at work and the children were at school. On Saturday, the car was washed and the lawn was mowed. Sunday was for worship. Sometimes both days were for “adventures” for the family. Overall, the weekend was for recovering from the work week, whether it was working on the job, at school or at home. Repair men took care of most problems during the week so the man of the house had minimal interruptions in his weekend rest from work.