Woo hoo! It’s the weekend in Wonderopolis! That means no school for two whole days. For many adults, it also means two days off from work.

What will you do? Spend time with family and friends? Play sports? Read a book? If there’s one thing there’s no shortage of on the weekend, it’s possibilities!

But have you ever stopped to wonder who invented weekends? Who came up with the idea of working five days and then taking two days off? Why didn’t they make the workweek two days and the weekend five days?

If you think about it, a two-day workweek wouldn’t give us much time to accomplish all the things we need to get done. How much could you learn if you only went to school two days each week? How many cars would be built if factories were only open two days per week?

As much as we love weekends, would you believe that they’ve only been around for less than 100 years? It’s true! For most of history, the workweek has been six or seven days long.

For much of history, taking one day of rest each week has been very common. This stems from various religious traditions. For example, Muslims traditionally took a day of rest on Friday, while Jews observed a day of rest on Saturday and Christians did so on Sunday.

It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution of the late 1800s that the concept of a two-day “weekend” began to take shape. At this time, large factories that produced consumer goods were beginning to transform the traditional farming economy into an industrial one.

As farmers began to take jobs in factories, they often disliked working certain hours, since they were used to setting their own schedule on the farm. They also did not like the fact that many factory owners forced them to work seven days per week. They began to complain and ask for time off with their families.

Getting time off to worship on Sundays was fairly easy, since observing Sunday as a day of rest was a longstanding Christian tradition. Due to a large number of Jewish immigrants in the late 1800s, factory owners also had many workers who wanted Saturday — the traditional Jewish day of rest — off instead.

Over time, factory owners realized that it would be most efficient to let workers off on both Saturday and Sunday. But Jewish and Christian factory workers weren’t entirely responsible for the invention of the weekend.

A prominent factory owner — Henry Ford — also played a big role. Even though the federal government didn’t begin to limit companies to a 40-hour workweek until 1938, Ford began to give his factory workers a two-day weekend in the early 1900s.

Why did he do this? He wanted to sell the cars his workers were making. He realized that his own workers were some of his best customers. If he wanted to sell more cars, he decided that his workers needed time off to be able to drive and enjoy them.

So the next time the weekend rolls around and you want to thank someone, thank the labor movement that existed in the factories in the late 1800s. And thank Henry Ford, who recognized that the economy gets a boost if workers have a couple of days off each week to purchase goods and enjoy using them!

Of course, when you go out on the weekend, you see people working everywhere you go. Not everyone works a traditional Monday through Friday workweek with Saturday and Sunday off. So that businesses can be open on the weekends, many people work flexible schedules that give them time off on other days of the week.

 

48 Join the Discussion

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    • We’re glad you learned some awesome things to do on the weekend by exploring today’s Wonder, too, Paige! That ROCKS! We hope you have a WONDERful weekend! :-)

  1. Hey person with a face that answers our questions and comments on our comments. This may be a large bit off topic, but why can’t someone invent a new color?

    • Hey, Devan! Guess what? Someone CAN invent a new color…YOU can invent a new color! Just combine parts of some of the other colors on the color wheel until you get the color you want! Then comes the really fun part…naming your new color! We hope you have fun inventing a new color! :-)

  2. I want to invent a color, too! I think Albert Einstein invented weekends because he was a genius and he wanted a break, so he took Saturday and Sunday off, right? Either Einstein or my cat, Pickles, invented weekends.

    • You can invent a new color, too, Wonder Friend! We believe in you! Thanks for sharing who you think invented weekends, too! :-)

  3. Hey, I’m Devan and I’m in computer tech. Our teacher makes us read your articles, so I just comment and speak what I have to say. I have lots of questions. But people always tell me that I talk too much. My friend Hannah comments, too. I go to Woodmont Middle School. I want to do something extra besides school. I can read music (which many people can’t), I love to draw, and I always wanted to be a teacher. I love the Greek gods. I want to do something with Greek gods. But what should I do?

    • WOW, Devan! You are one creative, talented Wonder Friend! We really enjoy hearing from our friends at Woodmont Middle School (go, Wildcats!) and think it’s cool that your computer tech teacher showed your class about Wonderopolis! We are proud of you for wanting to be a teacher, too! If you like Greek mythology, we think there just may be a Wonder of the Day® coming up in the near future you will REALLY enjoy! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts about weekends, TACOS! We appreciate your comment and are super happy you stopped by Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • We’re sure there are LOTS of other Wonder Friends who feel exactly the same way you do about weekends, Simone! Thanks for hanging out in Wonderopolis with us today! :-)

    • We’re glad this Wonder made you think a little more about why we have weekends, Wonder Friend! Thanks for sharing your comment with us today! :-)

  4. Hi! This is really interesting! I love the weekend, so thank you to who ever invented that! I love to read over the weekend! One of my favorites!! Do you ever WONDER about where different words, stories, and inspiration come from?? I love to read, write, draw, sing. Because of this video, I will definitely think about the weekends and what I will do over them!!! (Read, write, drawing, and singing are some of the things I do over the weekends!!)

    • Hi, Starburst! We think all of those things sound absolutely WONDERful! We get the feeling you are a super creative Wonder Friend who likes to learn new things and share your talents with the world! That ROCKS! :-)

  5. Well, thank God we have weekends now!!!! You should make a wonder on wonderopolis! Who started it, how many people work there, stuff like that! That would spark lots of people’s interest!!!

    • We like that idea, Mak! You are a SUPER Wonder Friend and we really appreciate your support of Wonderopolis! :-)

  6. Hi Wonderopolis!

    I enjoyed reading this topic on Who Invented Weekends! I had no idea that weekends have only been around for 100 years! I thought it would be much longer! I thought a teacher would come up with a 2 day break, because the students weren’t rested, and didn’t pay attention. Instead a FACTORY owner came up with the idea! Henry Ford came up with a great way for people to take a break!

    I have a couple questions. If the Christians and Jews had a longstanding day off then what about the Muslims? Where did the word “weekend” come from?

    Thanks for the great WONDERS, and conversations! (:

    Team Unger 1

    I think the work week is fine right now. They shouldn’t change it, because at my school we still get a lot of 4 day weekends or just one day off for teachers.

    • You did some GREAT WONDERing after you explored this Wonder about weekends, Team Unger 1…we’re proud of you! We’re not sure about the history of days off for other religions around the world, but now we are WONDERing about them, too! Thanks for helping us want to learn something new! :-)

  7. Hello Wonderopolis!!:)
    I loved the info on “Who Invented Weekends!” I thought it was great. Two new words I learned were longstanding, and efficient. Two new things I learned from the text that I never would have guessed about weekends was that weekends have been around for less than 100 years, and that Henry Ford invented the two day weekend. I just have one question, why couldn’t a weekend be three, or one day? If a weekend was only one day, we would get even more work done in school or in work. Thanks for the great wonders and wonderful info!!:) BYE!

    • Great thinking, Team McNeil 3! We bet there are LOTS of Wonder Friends who would be happy with a three-day weekend, but we would probably have a little harder time finding some who would vote for only a one-day weekend! :-)

  8. Hi Wonderopolis,

    I enjoyed learning about weekends!! I’ve always wanted to know who invented them!! I have so, so much fun on weekends sonic I have so many possibilities, I can hang out with friends and family, going camping in my backyard! I had no idea that weekends have only been invented for less than 100 years! (That’s so cool!!) I’m happy I get to have them.

    I’m glad Henry Ford made them 2 days! I have a question for you, does Wonderopolis get weekends?? Thanks for all the great wonders!
    Team Unger 21, Bye!

    • Sure we get weekends here in Wonderopolis, Team Unger 21, but we NEVER take a break from WONDERing about the world around us! Sometimes we even WONDER more on the weekends! :-)

  9. Hi Wonderopolis,

    I enjoyed the video and I’m happy to know who made weekends. I want to thank them!
    What I learned is the labor movement and Henry Ford played important roles to invent weekends. Also I realized that Jewish who observe Saturday for rest to worship helped to invent weekends. Now I wonder if there are any countries that don’t have weekends.
    I hope that everybody on earth has great weekends!
    Thank you for giving wonderful information.

    Team McNeil #19

    • Well, we know WE had a great weekend because we got to hear from AWESOME Wonder Friends like YOU, Team McNeil #19! We think weekends ROCK! We’re not sure if there are countries in the world that don’t have weekends. That would be something cool to learn about! :-)

  10. Hello Again Wonderopolis,

    I learned a lot of stuff about who invented weekends. I wish I could thank everyone who did, people need a break sometimes. Well here’s what I learned: Vocabulary: exible, longstanding. Facts: Henry Ford played a big part in creating weekends. Not just ONE person invented weekends. And I thought weekends have been around since like the 1400’s, but I guess I was wrong. I guess it was only until the 1800’s that weekends started to form.

    • You’re right, Team McNeil #4…people DO need a break sometimes! Thank goodness for weekends! We appreciate you sharing the cool vocabulary words and facts you learned by exploring this Wonder of the Day®! We are proud of you! :-)

  11. I have always wanted to know who invented the weekends, but didn’t know if anyone knew who did and when the title caught my eye, I was very excited. Thank you for posting the information!

    • Alright, we’re so happy that you shared your comment with us! It’s great to know that you learned something new about weekends, Caroline R, especially since you were WONDERing that yourself! Keep up the SUPER work! We hope to see you soon! :)

  12. My class does wonder Wednesday homework it really fun this was one of the ones I did by the way my class says hi so does my teacher Mr. White.

    Love the website

    Brooke

    • WOW, your Wednesday homework sounds like a really cool assignment, Wonder Friend Brooke! Please say hello to your class, and Mr. White, of course! It’s been so great to Wonder with you… perhaps we’ll see you next Wednesday! :)

  13. That’s cool that Henry Ford invented the weekend. Everyone enjoys the weekend guess what I have to make up a wonder and write a report on it for my writing class mine is when do the average age babies learn to crawl?

    • We have a weekend coming up, and boy are we excited! Do you have any fun weekend plans, Bigbrat? :)

      It sounds like you’ve got a really cool writing assignment– we think it’s awesome that you’ve been WONDERing on your own! What a great Wonder, too… “When do babies learn to crawl?” We can’t wait to hear more about it! :)

  14. Hey! Great, brief article on the invention of weekends. I also suspected that this would have started as a result of the industrial revolution. The Jewish angle makes perfect sense here though and the Henry Ford ‘nail in the coffin’, well, thank you for clarifying. Would like some links next time maybe so see your sources etc. However, all in all you’ve given me at least 5 minutes of office conversation.

    Kind Regards :)

    • Hey there, Phil, thanks for sharing your comment! We’re glad you liked our Wonder about the weekends, especially since they’re lots of fun! We are glad to know that you had guessed Henry Ford had something to do with the weekends we know and love! We hope you have a WONDERful day, and thank you for your suggestion about sources! :)

    • The 3-day weekends we sometimes get throughout the year sure are nice, Abi! What would you do if you had an extra weekend day every week? :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Who invented weekends?
  • When did weekends begin?
  • What fun things do you like to do on the weekend?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Are you ready for the weekend? We sure are!

Do you have big plans this weekend? Or no plans at all? Either way, don’t worry. We’re sure your weekend will be great.

How do you like to spend your weekends? Sleeping in later than usual? Playing sports? Watching television? Playing video games? Having fun with family and friends?

If you’re looking for some fun ideas for things to do on a weekend, try out some of these inspired ideas:

  • Go to the zoo! Find a local zoo and spend the day with your family amongst the animals. Visiting zoos is a fun way to spend any weekend day, and it can be very educational, too!
  • Visit a museum! Look online to see what museums are in your area. From art and history to science and children’s activities, there are many different types of museums to choose from.
  • See a movie! What’s playing at your local theater? A rainy weekend can be the perfect time to head indoors to check out a movie on the big screen or to curl up and watch one on television.
  • Head to the woods! Explore a local park or state or national forest. Go hiking. Learn about local wildlife. Maybe even try something new, like canoeing!
  • Go camping in your backyard! You don’t need to go far to have fun on the weekend. Pitch a tent in the backyard, cook out on your patio and enjoy your neighborhood in ways that you don’t take advantage of during the week.

 

Still Wondering

On Monday mornings, many teachers will ask their students what they did over the weekend. ReadWriteThink’s Weekend News! A Weekly Writing Activity lesson teaches children how to respond to this question in writing.

 

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