AskDefine | Define Sunday

Dictionary Definition

Sunday n : first day of the week; observed as a day of rest and worship by most Christians [syn: Lord's Day, Dominicus, Sun] v : spend Sunday; "We sundayed in the country"

User Contributed Dictionary



sunnenday from sunnandæg, day of the sun, from sunne, sun, + dæg, day, as a translation of dies solis; declared the "venerable day of the sun" by Roman Emperor Constantine on March 7, AD 321


  • , /ˈsʌndeɪ/, /"sVndeI/ or , /ˈsʌndi/, /"sVndi/
  • Rhymes with: -ʌndeɪ, Rhymes with: -ʌndi


Proper noun

en-proper noun Sundays
  1. The seventh day of the week in Europe and in systems using the ISO 8601 standard, or the first day of the week in the USA, the Sabbath for most Christians; it follows Saturday and precedes Monday.

Derived terms




  1. on Sunday


  • Irish: Dé Domhnaigh

Extensive Definition

Sunday is the day of the week between Saturday and Monday. In the Jewish law it is the first day of the Hebrew calendar week. In many Christian traditions it is the Christian Sabbath, which replaced the Jewish Shabbat. It has traditionally been the first day of the week, but from the mid-twentieth century it is regarded as the seventh day of the civil calendar week.
Sunday is named after Sunna (Sól), Germanic goddess of the sun, from which the word sun also is derived. The practice of naming the seven days after the ten known "planets" goes back to Babylonian or Egyptian times and was adopted by Greeks and Romans.
Sunday is considered a non-working day in many countries of the world, and are part of "the weekend". Countries predominantly influenced by Jewish or Islamic religions have Friday or Saturday as a weekly non-working day instead.
The Gregorian calendar repeats every 400 years, and no century starts on a Sunday. The Jewish New Year never falls on a Sunday. Any month beginning on a Sunday will contain a Friday the 13th.
In the folk rhyme Monday's Child, "... the child that is born on the Sabbath Day is bonny and blithe and good and gay."
In Thailand, the color associated with Sunday is red.

The name Sunday

In Ptolemaic Egyptian astrology, the seven known celestial bodies then considered planetsSaturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, and the Moon—had an hour of the day assigned to each in that order, but the planet which was "regent" during the first hour of any day of the week gave its name to that day. The Egyptian form of the seven-day week spread to Rome during the first and second century when the Roman names of the planets were given to each successive day.
Germanic-speaking nations apparently adopted the seven-day week from the Romans, so that the Roman dies Solis became Sunday (German, Sonntag), likely in reference to the Germanic sun goddess Sunna. The Christians reinterpreted the indigenous name as implying the Sun of Righteousness with reference to his "arising" (Bible verse |Malachi|4:2|KJV) . It was also called Dies Panis (Day of Bread), because it was an early custom to break bread on that day.
In most of the Indian Languages, the word for Sunday is or Ravivar, Adivar and It'var, with Adi (Ah'-Dee) or Ravi being the Sanskrit names for the Sun. The first Christian reference to Sunday is found in the First Apology of St. Justin Martyr (c. 150 AD). In a well-known passage of the Apology (Chapter 67), Justin describes the Christian custom of gathering for worship on Sunday. "And on the day called Sunday [τῇ τοῦ ῾Ηλίου λεγομένη ἡμέρᾳ], all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits . . .", he writes. Evidently Justin used the term Sunday because he was writing to a non-Christian, pagan audience. In Justin's time, Christians usually called Sunday the Lord's Day (because they observed it as a weekly memorial of Jesus Christ's resurrection).
Sunday has also been called "the Eighth Day" (because of the Roman Catholic belief that Christ's resurrection on the day following the seventh-day Sabbath is a portal to timeless eternity that transcends the seven-day weekly cycle).

Position in the week

In the Judaeo-Christian tradition Sunday has been considered as the first day of the week. However, in some countries calendars show Monday as day 1 of the week. There are also countries where both types of calendar can be found, which causes trouble for over-enthusiastic computer software that attempts to dictate a user's calendrical preferences based purely on his location.
A number of languages appear to reflect Sunday's status as the first day of the week. In Greek, the names of the days Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (Δευτέρα, Τρίτη, Τετάρτη, and Πέμπτη) mean "second", "third", "fourth", and "fifth", respectively. This suggests that Sunday was once counted as Πρώτη, that is, "first". The current Greek name for Sunday, Κυριακή, means "Lord's Day". A similar system of naming days of the week occurs in Portuguese. Monday is segunda-feira, which means "second day", also showing Sunday (domingo) to be counted as the first day. Similarly modern Latin uses "feria secunda" for Monday.
On the other hand, Slavonic languages use day-numbers that implicitly number Monday as 1, not 2. For example, Polish has czwartek (4) for Thursday and piątek (5) for Friday. [Hungarian péntek (Friday) is a cognate of this, although, Hungarian not being a Slavonic or even Indo-European language, the correlation with "5" is not evident to a Hungarian speaker].
The truth is that day names in languages rapidly become names of days and lose whatever independent meaning they once had. The French do not celebrate a feast of Mercury on mercredi (Wednesday), nor do the English make shrines to Thor on Thursday. Thus the fact that the Arabic language also counts Sunday as the first day of the week (أحد, ahad—"one"), and keeps on counting Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as "two", "three" and "four", says nothing about Arabic or Islamic culture but merely reflects ancient linguistic history. In many Arab countries the weekend is on Thursday and Friday, thus making Saturday (in Arabic: سبت, sabat) the first day of the working week.

Sunday and the Sabbath

seealso Sabbath in Christianity
Christians from very early times have had differences of opinion on the question of whether the Sabbath should be observed on a Saturday or a Sunday. The issue does not arise for Jews, for whom the Shabbat is unquestionably on Saturday, nor for Muslims whose day of assembly (jumu'ah) is on a Friday.
The first evidence of a differentiation from the traditional Jewish Shabbat observance, and the religious observance of the first day of the week, appears in Acts 20:7 where the disciples met to participate in the ordinance of the sacrament. Col 2:16 also demonstrates that the early Christians were beginning to differ from their Jewish neighbors, not only in the new tradition of eating foods that had been prohibited under Judaism, but also in their observance of the Sabbath day. The Apostle John also refers to the "Lord's Day" in Rev 1:10 - indicating that those to whom he was writing were familiar with the term. Some early Jewish Christians observed the Sabbath on Saturday, but by the first half of the second century an increasing number of Christians would gather for worship on Sunday. Some continued to observe the Sabbath on Saturday, until even the crusader period. The practice was discouraged, but not suppressed.
On 7 March 321, Constantine I decreed that Sunday (dies Solis) will be observed as the Roman day of rest [CJ3.12.2]:
''On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits because it often happens that another day is not suitable for grain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.''
Though some Christians use the decree in support of the move of the Sabbath day to Sunday, in fact the decree was in support of the worship of the Sun-God (see Sol Invictus). In any event, the decree did not apply to Christians or Jews. It was part of the Roman civil law and religion and not an edict of the Church.
Many Christians today consider Sunday to be the Sabbath day, a holy day and a day of rest and church-attendance. Denominations which observe Saturday as the Sabbath are called Sabbatarians; however, the name Sabbatarian has also been claimed by Christians, especially Protestants, who believe Sunday must be observed with just the sort of rigorous abstinence from work associated with the Jewish Sabbath (exemplified by Eric Liddell as depicted in the film Chariots of Fire). For most Christians the custom and obligation of Sunday rest has not been as strict.
In Orthodox Christian families and communities, some activities are not done, e.g. working, doing something that requires somebody else to work such as buying goods or services (including the use of public transport), driving a car, gardening, washing a car, etc. Exceptions which are allowed are making use of religious services, and, usually, using electricity, and urgent medical matters. In Russian, the word for Saturday is Subota ("Sabath"). In Roman Catholicism, those who work in the medical field, in law enforcement, or soldiers in a war zone are dispensed from the usual obligation to avoid work on Sunday.
The majority of Christians have continued to observe the Sabbath on Sunday ever since, although throughout history one sometimes finds Christian groups that continued or revived the observance of the Saturday Sabbath. More recently in history, Christians in the Seventh-day Adventist, Seventh Day Baptist, and Church of God (Seventh-Day) denominations (along with many related or similar denominations), as well as many Messianic Jews, have revived the practice of abstaining from work and gathering for worship on Saturdays.
Many languages lack separate words for "Saturday" and "Sabbath". Eastern Orthodox churches, as well as many Roman Catholics, distinguish between the Sabbath (Saturday) and Sunday, which some Christians traditionally call the Lord's Day (Bible verse |Rev.|1:10|KJV). However, many Protestants and Roman Catholics do refer to Sunday as the Sabbath, though this is by no means a universal practice among Protestants and Catholics. Quakers traditionally refer to Sunday as "First Day" eschewing the pagan origin of the English name.
In Roman Catholicism liturgy, Sunday begins on Saturday evening. The evening Mass on Saturday is liturgically a full Sunday Mass and fulfils the obligation of Sunday Mass attendance, and Vespers (evening prayer) on Saturday night is liturgically 'first Vespers' of the Sunday. The same evening anticipation applies to other major solemnities and feasts, and is an echo of the Jewish practice of starting the new day at sunset (so that Sabbath starts on the Friday night).
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Sunday begins at the Little Entrance of Vespers (or All-Night Vigil) on Saturday evening and runs until "Vouchsafe, O Lord" (after the prokeimenon) of Vespers on Sunday night. During this time, the dismissal at all services begin with the words, "May Christ our True God, who rose from the dead…". Anyone who wishes to receive Holy Communion at Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning is required to attend Vespers the night before (see Eucharistic discipline). Among Orthodox Christians, Sunday is considered to be a "Little Pascha" (Easter), and because of the Paschal joy, the making of prostrations is forbidden, except in certain circumstances. The Russian The word for Sunday is Voskresenie, meaning "Resurrection day". In Greek the word for Sunday is Kyriake (the "Lord's Day").
The Polish word for Sunday (niedziela) can be translated as "without acts (work)"

Common occurrences on Sunday

In the United States, professional American football is usually played on Sunday, although Saturday and Monday (via Monday Night Football) also see some professional games. College football usually occurs on Saturday, and high-school football tends to take place on Friday night or Saturday afternoon.
In the United States and Canada, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League games, which are usually played at night during the week, are frequently played during daytime hours - often broadcast on national television. Major League Baseball usually schedules all Sunday games in the daytime except for the nationally televised Sunday Night Baseball matchup. Certain historically religious cities such as Boston and Baltimore among others will schedule games no earlier than 1:35 PM to ensure time for people who go to religious service in the morning can get to the game in time.
In the UK club and premiership football matches and tournaments usually take place even Rugby matches and tournaments usually take place in club grounds or parks on Sunday mornings. It is not uncommon for church attendance to shift on days when a late morning or early afternoon game is anticipated by a local community.
Also in the United States, many federal government buildings are closed on Sunday. Privately owned businesses also tend to close or are open for shorter periods of the day than on other days of the week.
Many American and British television networks and stations also broadcast their political interview shows on Sunday mornings.
Many American and British daily newspapers publish a larger edition on Sundays, which often includes color comic strips, a magazine, and a coupon section.
Most NASCAR Sprint Cup, Indy Racing League and Champ Car events are held on Sundays. Formula One and MotoGP races are also held on Sundays with qualifying taking place on Saturday.
In Ireland, Gaelic football and hurling matches are predominantly played on Sundays, with the second and fourth Sundays in September always playing host to the All-Ireland hurling and football championship finals, respectively.
Radio stations often play specialty radio shows such as Casey Kasem's countdown or other nationally syndicated radio shows that may differ from their regular weekly music patterns on Sunday morning and/or Sunday evening.
In Alabama, Dominoes may not be played on Sunday.

Named days


Sunday in Afrikaans: Sondag
Sunday in Tosk Albanian: Sonntag
Sunday in Amharic: እሑድ
Sunday in Old English (ca. 450-1100): Sunnandæg
Sunday in Arabic: أحد (يوم)
Sunday in Franco-Provençal: Demenge
Sunday in Asturian: Domingu
Sunday in Azerbaijani: Bazar
Sunday in Bengali: রবিবার
Sunday in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Нядзеля
Sunday in Bosnian: Nedjelja
Sunday in Breton: Sul (deiz)
Sunday in Bulgarian: Неделя
Sunday in Catalan: Diumenge
Sunday in Chuvash: Вырсарникун
Sunday in Cebuano: Dominggo
Sunday in Czech: Neděle
Sunday in Corsican: Dumenica
Sunday in Welsh: Dydd Sul
Sunday in Danish: Søndag
Sunday in German: Sonntag
Sunday in Estonian: Pühapäev
Sunday in Modern Greek (1453-): Κυριακή
Sunday in Erzya: Таргочи
Sunday in Spanish: Domingo
Sunday in Esperanto: Dimanĉo
Sunday in Basque: Igande
Sunday in Ewe: Kɔsiɖagbe
Sunday in Persian: یک‌شنبه
Sunday in Faroese: Sunnudagur
Sunday in French: Dimanche
Sunday in Western Frisian: Snein
Sunday in Friulian: Domenie
Sunday in Irish: Domhnach
Sunday in Gan Chinese: 禮拜天
Sunday in Scottish Gaelic: Di-Dòmhnaich
Sunday in Galician: Domingo
Sunday in Korean: 일요일
Sunday in Armenian: Կիրակի
Sunday in Hindi: रविवार
Sunday in Croatian: Nedjelja
Sunday in Indonesian: Minggu
Sunday in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Dominica
Sunday in Icelandic: Sunnudagur
Sunday in Italian: Domenica
Sunday in Hebrew: יום ראשון
Sunday in Javanese: Ngaat
Sunday in Kannada: ಭಾನುವಾರ
Sunday in Georgian: კვირა
Sunday in Kazakh: Жексенбі
Sunday in Cornish: Dy' Sul
Sunday in Kirghiz: Жекшемби
Sunday in Swahili (macrolanguage): Jumapili
Sunday in Haitian: Dimanch
Sunday in Kurdish: Yekşem
Sunday in Ladino: Alhad
Sunday in Lao: ວັນອາທິດ
Sunday in Latin: Dies solis
Sunday in Latvian: Svētdiena
Sunday in Luxembourgish: Sonndeg
Sunday in Lithuanian: Sekmadienis
Sunday in Hungarian: Vasárnap
Sunday in Macedonian: Недела
Sunday in Malay (macrolanguage): Ahad
Sunday in Dutch: Zondag
Sunday in Dutch Low Saxon: Zundag
Sunday in Nepali: आइतवार
Sunday in Japanese: 日曜日
Sunday in Neapolitan: Dummeneca
Sunday in Norwegian: Søndag
Sunday in Norwegian Nynorsk: Sundag
Sunday in Narom: Dînmanche
Sunday in Occitan (post 1500): Dimenge
Sunday in Uzbek: Yakshanba
Sunday in Low German: Sünndag
Sunday in Polish: Niedziela
Sunday in Portuguese: Domingo
Sunday in Kölsch: Sunndaach
Sunday in Romanian: Duminică
Sunday in Quechua: Intichaw
Sunday in Russian: Воскресенье
Sunday in Scots: Sunday
Sunday in Albanian: E diela
Sunday in Sicilian: Dumìnica
Sunday in Simple English: Sunday
Sunday in Sindhi: آچر
Sunday in Slovak: Nedeľa
Sunday in Church Slavic: Недѣл
Sunday in Slovenian: Nedelja
Sunday in Somali: Axad
Sunday in Serbian: Недеља
Sunday in Serbo-Croatian: Nedjelja
Sunday in Sundanese: Minggu
Sunday in Finnish: Sunnuntai
Sunday in Swedish: Söndag
Sunday in Tagalog: Linggo (araw)
Sunday in Tamil: ஞாயிறு (கிழமை)
Sunday in Tatar: Yäkşämbe
Sunday in Thai: วันอาทิตย์
Sunday in Vietnamese: Chủ nhật
Sunday in Tok Pisin: Sande
Sunday in Turkish: Pazar
Sunday in Ukrainian: Неділя
Sunday in Urdu: اتوار
Sunday in Venetian: Doménega
Sunday in Võro: Pühäpäiv
Sunday in Walloon: Dimegne
Sunday in Vlaams: Zundag
Sunday in Yiddish: זונטיק
Sunday in Yoruba: Ọjọ́ Àìkú
Sunday in Contenese: 星期日
Sunday in Zamboanga Chavacano: Domingo
Sunday in Samogitian: Sekmadėinis
Sunday in Chinese: 星期日

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Christmas, First day, Sabbath, church calendar, day of rest, dies non, ecclesiastical calendar, fast, feast, go on furlough, go on leave, holiday, holy day, holytide, make holiday, take a holiday, take leave, vacation, weekend
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