How many days in a weekend?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/09/20 03:01 -04:00, original URI:

The other day, someone sent me some mail with an interesting question:

Hi Micheal, was googling for an answer to this dev question "how do you detect the first day of the weekend and how many days there are in the weekend"

Which is a good question. Cause GetLocaleInfo doesn't help there except to give you the first day of the week - but its not safe to assume the last two days are weekend days when your outside Europe etc.

Any thoughts? Thought I'd ask you after reading your blog...

My first thought was of Ursa Minor Beta, of which has been said:

It is a West Zone planet which by an inexplicable and somewhat suspicious freak of topography consists almost entirely of sub- tropical coastline. By an equally suspicious freak of temporal relastatics, it is nearly always Saturday afternoon just before the beach bars close.

But then I realized that I was not being tested about my Douglas Adams knowledge. :-)

My second thought was that perhaps Microsoft should pay to send me to various exotic places to see if I can find anywhere that has longer than a two-day weekend every week!

Then, back on Planet Earth I realized I should just come clean.

There is no locale data carried around by Windows that tracks the first day of the weekend, and there is nothing to represent the number of days in the weekend. As far as I know, every locale calls LOCALE_SDAYNAME6 and LOCALE_SDAYNAME7 the weekend, and it is always two days long.

Of course, given that LOCALE_IFIRSTDAYOFWEEK exists and that there are many locales that have different days that users would consider the "first day of the week", the whole term "weekend" is kind of unfortunate. And it does make me wonder if they even call it a weekend in every locale. And if it is not, then what happens to songs like Everybody's Working for the Weekend in those places? Or maybe Loverboy just didn't do as well in some locales....

Does anyone know better here? Is there some place that has a 3-day weekend every week, or somewhere that starts the weekend on Wednesday? I can fly there within the month. :-)


This post brought to you by "ʄ" (U+0284, a.k.a. LATIN SMALL LETTER DOTLESS J WITH STROKE AND HOOK)

# Keith Farmer on 20 Sep 2005 3:41 AM:

Unfortunately, such things vary even from business to business within the same region. For example, many motorcycle mechanics have their weekends on Monday and Tuesday, leaving them free to work Saturday and Sunday. Some places are closed Tuesdays and Thursdays, etc. The concept of weekend is one probably put in with repeating holiday, rather than a true feature of the week.

Actually, it'd be interesting to see which cultures don't have a 7-day week, if they have a week at all. It's very strongly Judeo-Christian.

# Jens Samson on 20 Sep 2005 3:52 AM:

Muslims have their sunday on the friday, but I don't know which day they consider to be the first day of the week and which days they consider to be the weekend.

# Serge Wautier on 20 Sep 2005 4:10 AM:

> Is there some place that has a 3-day weekend every week ?

Sure : In French big companies since the 35hr-week was voted by French government a few years ago. (Sorry, couldn't resist ;-)

# ripster on 20 Sep 2005 10:12 AM:

Check out

# Michael S. Kaplan on 20 Sep 2005 10:40 AM:

It is hard to equate a lot of the above with anything that can be tied to a locale (I was primarily thinking about the work stuff, but even the religious stuff can be pretty controversial)....

# Michael Dunn_ on 20 Sep 2005 12:15 PM:

I used to work with some folks at Samsung Korea, and they worked every other Saturday, so they had 1-day weekends alternating with 2-day weekends. However, I don't know if that's typical for Korea as a whole.

# Orion Montoya on 20 Sep 2005 12:52 PM:

About a year ago I heard about this company that <a href="">keeps track of weekends/holidays as a service for the financial industry</a>. It sounds like a pretty interesting problem, and this New York Times article talks about <a href="">how complicated it is to keep track of the moving target of international holidays</a>.


<blockquote>In France, for example, banks and the union representing their employees negotiate the bank holiday schedule each year. Sometimes different financial institutions within the same country even observe different holidays.</blockquote>

Also, from Wikipedia, this fun about the <a href="">international date line</a>:

<blockquote>In the central Pacific, the date line was moved in 1995 to extend around, rather than through, the territory of Kiribati. Prior to this time zone change, Kiribati straddled the date line; as a consequence, government offices on opposite sides of the line could only communicate on the four days of the week when both sides experienced weekdays simultaneously.</blockquote>

# Mihai on 20 Sep 2005 1:01 PM:

Long-long-ago (or maybe not that long), the Eastern Europe was Communist (well, technically was socialist and trying to achieve communism, which was the "nirvana"), the week-end was one day only (Sunday). Every single week, not once in a while.
Since there are still communist countries in the world, this might still be the case.
I am not trying to say only communists work on Saturday, it might be the case in other parts of the world too. In fact, the story says that God rested one day, not two, after he created everything :-)

Ok MishKa, so maybe there is no country with three days of week-end, but you might find some with one, to go and visit :-)

# Maurits [MSFT] on 20 Sep 2005 1:39 PM:

> how do you detect the first day of the weekend and how many days there are in the weekend

You make a table of holidays. Most holidays are determined formulaically. Independence Day is nominally easy, but different businesses have different policies if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday.

Easter is particularly interesting as it depends on the phases of the moon in the given year. This requires a lunar ephemeris.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 20 Sep 2005 2:26 PM:

Mihai-- I usually work on the weekends anyway!

# Ambarish Sridharanarayanan on 20 Sep 2005 11:55 PM:

kfarmer wrote:

> Actually, it'd be interesting to see which cultures don't have a 7-day week, if they have a week at all. It's very strongly Judeo-Christian.

Not at all. A week is 7-days in a lot of early civilisations pre-dating Christianity atleast, and having little to do with Judaism. For instance, ancient Babylonia and the Vedic civilisations. You can read more at:

The uniformity is remarkable enough to suggest that there must have been a precursor civilisation to all the above.

# Matt Ryall on 21 Sep 2005 5:00 AM:

It's interesting that there isn't any locale support for this, given that most calendar tools I've used have an option to change highlighting and treatment of the working week and weekend. For example, in Outlook you can select your working days in the Calendar preferences.

Perhaps configuration of the working week isn't useful to most Windows applications, so there's no reason to have it as a locale setting?

# Tanveer Badar on 30 Dec 2007 11:24 AM:

"Muslims have their Sunday on the Friday, but I don't know which day they consider to be the first day of the week and which days they consider to be the weekend."

Muslim week (what would you call it? Even I don't know the proper term) starts on Friday which is also a weekend in most Muslim countries.

But this gives rise to another problem. In Pakistan weekend has shifted back and forth between Friday and Sunday at least half a dozen times. We even had two day long weekend in the 90s. This would make weekend 2.5 days long because of the half day on Friday and holidays on Saturday and Sunday.

So weekend are not fixed culturally or religiously, at least in my country. :(

# Jan Kučera on 24 Jan 2008 8:35 PM:


In Israel, the days of rest are Saturday and either Friday or Sunday, at the option of the individual.

I think this sentence completely broke down my attempts to assign working/weekend days to cultures. I think the Outlook team did solve this brilliantly.

Mihai: I'm from one of these countries, and it really was not so long ago!

Yet still the first question by kfarmer interests me:

Does anybody know, whether there are any _present_ cultures which do not have 7 days in week? I've read that in ancient times practically all options between 4 and 8 days per week were used, but today?

Summer on 16 Sep 2010 4:25 AM:

Isn't fri sat sun weekends?

Michael S. Kaplan on 16 Sep 2010 10:16 AM:

In my ideal world, it is! :-)

referenced by

2008/01/24 We could just treat every day like the weekend and see what that does to the software people?

2006/08/24 Everybody's working for the weekend

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