Why is Sunday a public holiday?
Sunday on the weekend
Sunday as a day of rest
"You should work six days, but on the seventh day you should rest". This sentence comes from the Old Testament from the translation of the Luther Bible and naturally refers, no, not to Sunday, but to Saturday, or rather to the Sabbath of the Jewish faith, from which today's naming Saturday comes. For many centuries it was Saturday, which was considered the seventh day of the week and practically ended it, of course only in the Christian or Jewish faith. The Sunday we are talking about was and is still partly the first day of the week. In quite a few calendars in the English-speaking world, for example, the week is listed from Sunday to Saturday and not from Monday to Sunday, as in most of Central Europe.
When did the rest day Saturday become the rest day Sunday?
Christianity with its traditions originally comes from the Jewish faith, in that Saturday is still the day of rest. Through the spread of Christianity, more and more people came to the Christian faith who originally had nothing to do with the Sabbath or Saturday and it was Sunday, which according to the Gospels was the day of Jesus' resurrection and on this day, the first day of the week , this resurrection was celebrated by the Christians with so-called meal celebrations. But that is only one aspect of determining Sunday as a day of rest. A Roman god had a much stronger influence on this.
"Unconquered sun god" is the translation for Sol Invictus, the Roman sun god. He is one of the oldest gods of the Roman Empire, who, according to legend, existed when Rome was founded and who was introduced by the legendary King Titus Tatius, who in turn besieged Rome, which was still young at the time. He did this again because their founders Romulus and Remus came up with the idea of holding a fighting game due to a considerable lack of women in their city and invited the residents of the neighboring cities to do so. Including the Sabines. The result was that Romulus and Remus robbed the women of the Sabines during the fighting games, which went down in history as a legend, "the robbery of the Sabine women". This King Titus Tatius, King of the Sabines, finally ruled together with Romulus and Remus over the still young Rome and in this context introduced the sun god Sol. The whole is said to have happened about 750 years before the birth of Christ. Sol and Luna, the moon goddess, were two rather unimportant gods of the budding Roman empire at that time and it was only at the beginning of the new era that the importance of Sol as the protective god of the Roman emperors increased in importance.
Constantine the Great
The Roman Emperor Constantine is believed to be the first Christian Emperor of the Roman Empire in history, although this is not entirely true. However, from 313 onwards, Constantine granted religious freedom throughout the Roman Empire and also gave the Christians who had been persecuted until then some privileges. Although Constantine sympathized with Christianity, he was also a great devotee of the sun god. In this context, there was a slow transition in symbolism. The sun became a symbol for the Christian God. At this time the Romans already knew the 7-day week, the name of which came from Babylonian times and was adopted from the old seven planets. Constantine established the seven-day week in AD 321 and made the first day of the week a day off from work and from court. This first day was dedicated to Sol or Solis, the planet sun, and was later Germanized by the Teutons into Sunnuntag and later Sunday, from which the English Sunday is derived, since the original English is based on the Germanic language. The name Dominica, commonly used in Spanish and Italian, was derived from the Latin translation and simply means: Lord's Day.
Sunday in the course of history
Since the Roman Empire had already come through a number of crises during the time of Constantine the Great and only existed as a Western and Eastern Roman Empire until the year 395 and from then on slowly dissolved in the western part, a stabilizing state power could not be intervene more. With the end of the Western Roman Empire from around 480 onwards and the subsequent power struggles that flared up all over Central Europe, Sunday initially lost its importance as a day off. In the early Middle Ages there was no longer any Sunday rest. It was not until the Middle Ages that the ecclesiastical commandments were observed more strongly again and Sunday was again propagated as a day of rest. For the reformer Luther, Sunday was important as a day of rest because on this day the uneducated people had the opportunity to deal with the Christian faith.
Sunday in modern times
Up until the 18th century, Sunday was again a day of rest observed by all Christians. Then slowly began the industrialization of societies in Europe and Sunday was again less considered as a day off. A 7-day work week was still quite common in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was not until the end of the 19th century that the first labor laws were introduced that stipulated Sunday as a day off.
Even today, Sunday is increasingly called into question due to round-the-clock production or services that can be called up at any time. In England, for example, a court decision since 2013 has not allowed Sunday work to be refused. The European Court of Justice removed the Sunday clause, which is legally stipulated as non-working, from the legislation back in the 1990s. Nevertheless, in large parts of Central Europe as well as North and South America, Sunday is the day of rest, which, by the way, is more due to the trade unions than to Christian values, especially in modern times. It is the same with the largely non-working working day Saturday. The weekend with two free working days, which many Germans appreciate today, has only existed in Germany since 1967.
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