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Peter B
2005-Dec-14, 07:03 AM
I'm involved in a bit of a discussion on another board about the origin of the day of rest. The OP suggested that it had a divine (Jewish) origin. I asked whether the Aztecs or Chinese had a day of rest, and he told me (probably appropriately) to go and do my own research.

Well, a quick Google search hasn't helped, so I was wondering whether the bright sparks of BAUT might be able to help me...

Did the Aztecs or Chinese have a day of rest? What about other non-European/Mediterranean civilisations?

Cheers

Huevos Grandes
2005-Dec-14, 08:59 AM
Calenders are shaky, inaccurate things at best. The Julian calendar, erected by Caesar to have 365 days, and corrected in 1572 by Pope Gregory III fixed the occurrence of leap year. But if you're talking "day of rest", then it's hardly been linked to any calendar day, and frequently has a MAJOR religious bent. Common times for such days were after a harvest, or something in phases of the moon. Even without calendars, the solstices could be determined thousands of years ago, and also became popular days for many religions, including, "pagans".

That said, I think you'll have a tough time keeping this thread in the "General Science" forum. Seems more like Geo-cultural History / Religion to me...

Wolverine
2005-Dec-14, 09:21 AM
That said, I think you'll have a tough time keeping this thread in the "General Science" forum. Seems more like Geo-cultural History / Religion to me...

Aptly put. Agreed & moved.

Enzp
2005-Dec-14, 11:38 AM
Huevos, if I read him right, this is not about some event called Day of Rest, I think he means taking one day a week off from work. if not once a week - week being something we use but not universal - then something roughly equivalent. Obviously in our juedo-christian heritage it comes from the ten commandments. That whether one is religious or not.

I have no insights into those other cultures' practices. DO you care specifically about those two, or do you have interest in other cultures in general. In which case, sub-Saharan African cultures, Inuit cultures, and Atilla the Hun also come to mind. "We can't pillage today, AH, it's our day off."

Lianachan
2005-Dec-14, 12:20 PM
The earliest that springs to mind is definately the Jewish Shabbat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shabbat), which predates the Christian Sabbath (the early Christians were Jews, and this was one of the practices they took with them).

Given that Judaism is about 4,000 years old - it'll be quite hard to find an older day of rest anywhere.

Peter B
2005-Dec-14, 05:55 PM
Enzp said:
Huevos, if I read him right, this is not about some event called Day of Rest, I think he means taking one day a week off from work.

Correct. That's what I'm curious about.


if not once a week - week being something we use but not universal - then something roughly equivalent.

Correct again. I understand that other cultures have weeks of varying lengths (I'm sure I've read somewhere that the Romans had a 10 day week, but I can't remember).


Obviously in our juedo-christian heritage it comes from the ten commandments. That whether one is religious or not.

I have no insights into those other cultures' practices. DO you care specifically about those two, or do you have interest in other cultures in general.

Any cultures from outside the European-Mediterranean region (as I mentioned in my OP).


In which case, sub-Saharan African cultures, Inuit cultures, and Atilla the Hun also come to mind. "We can't pillage today, AH, it's our day off."

Heh. I'm reminded of "Asterix in Britain," where the Romans were baffled by the Britons' habit of stopping for tea, even in the middle of a battle.

Peter B
2005-Dec-14, 05:57 PM
Lianachan said:
Given that Judaism is about 4,000 years old - it'll be quite hard to find an older day of rest anywhere.

It's not necessary to find an older example, as many cultures would have had no contact with Judea/Judah. Hence my picking of Aztecs and Chinese - neither of these cultures would have had any contact with Jewish culture.

01101001
2005-Dec-14, 06:03 PM
I did a little Googling and found (maybe it was Wikipedia talk on "week", not authoratative enough to quote) someone claiming ancient China had a 10-day week and no day of rest.

Days of rest for agricultural, especially livestock-based, cultures don't make a lot of sense. How do you tell a cow she doesn't get milked this morning because it's a day of rest?

It's an interesting topic.

Lianachan
2005-Dec-16, 07:44 AM
Lianachan said:

It's not necessary to find an older example, as many cultures would have had no contact with Judea/Judah. Hence my picking of Aztecs and Chinese - neither of these cultures would have had any contact with Jewish culture.

How are contact with Judea and being over 4,000 years old related? My point was that based soley on the antiquity of Judaism, it will be difficult to find any older examples of a day of rest (that are documented) anywhere at all in the world.

LurchGS
2005-Dec-18, 05:11 AM
and last I looked, it's been pretty well established that there WAS contact between the chinese and the mediterranean (and between the Indian sub-continent and the mediterranean) - established trade routes, etc. Marco (Polo!) RE-discovered the route, based on old tales.

And of course, there are those who think there was contact between the mediterranean and the new world long before Columbus

But, when you get right down to it, a 'day of rest' is kinda silly in ANY culture. We grew from hunter-getherer roots. Are YOU going to take a day off from providing for your family?

You get your rest in HG and agricultural societies by the unending change in jobs - one day you plant, the next you gather, the next you hunt... or in aggie land, one week you plant, the next week you tend the plants and animals and fix the farm and butcher that old boar and shoot the bandit and fix the farm and shear the sheep and make soap and fix the farm and domesticate the dog and ...

It's not really until the advent of the industrial revolution that the idea of a day of rest makes any kind of sense (you do the same thing, day in day out, weeks on end and you NEED to do something else every so often.)

Hrm.. that made me think - are there any other (i.e. no christian based) religions that specify the believers become a congregation and meet once a week? If you spend half your day in church, it becomes darn difficult to get anything done around the ol' homestead

Jeff Root
2005-Dec-18, 06:42 AM
This calendar FAQ has been extensively researched and is
frequently updated:

Archive-name: calendars/faq/part1
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 2005/12/15
Version: 2.8
URL: http://www.tondering.dk/claus/calendar.html



This is the calendar FAQ. Its purpose is to give an overview
of the Christian, Hebrew, Persian, and Islamic calendars in
common use. It will provide a historical background for the
Christian calendar, plus an overview of the French Revolutionary
calendar, the Maya calendar, and the Chinese calendar.

7.5. Which day is the day of rest?
----------------------------------

For the Jews, the Sabbath (Saturday) is the day of rest and
worship. On this day God rested after creating the world.

Most Christians have made Sunday their day of rest and worship,
because Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday.

Muslims use Friday as their day of rest and worship. The Qur'an
calls Friday a holy day, the "king of days".
Sections 7.4 and 7.6 are related info. Section 7.3 has a nifty
explanation of the order of the names of the days of the week.
Other sections may be relevant, too.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

LurchGS
2005-Dec-18, 06:49 AM
hrm, those are all judeo-christian religions...

Eroica
2005-Dec-18, 09:49 AM
A Babylonian origin for the Jewish Shabbat has been proposed.

The Catholic Encyclopedia: (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13287b.htm)


The Sabbath is first met with in connection with the fall of the manna (Exodus 16:22 sqq.), but it there appears as an institution already known to the Israelites. The Sinaitic legislation therefore only gave the force of law to an existing custom. The origin of this custom is involved in obscurity. It was not borrowed from the Egyptians, as the week of seven days closing with a day of rest was unknown to them. In recent years a Babylonian origin has been advocated. A lexicographical tablet gives shabattu as the equivalent of um nuh libbi, "the day of the appeasement of the heart" (of the gods). Furthermore, a religious calendar of the intercalary month Elul and of the month Marchesvan mentions the 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th, and 19th days, the latter probably because it was the 49th (7x7) day from the beginning of the preceding month, as days on which the king, the magician, and the physician were to abstain from certain acts. The king, for instance, was not to eat food prepared with fire, put on bright garments, ride in a chariot, or exercise acts of authority. These days were then, days of propitiation , and therefore shabattu days. We have thus periods of seven days the last day of which is marked by abstention from certain actions, and called shabattu, in other words the equivalent of the Sabbath

Relmuis
2005-Dec-18, 11:36 AM
The seven day week was instituted by Moses (or perhaps by God, through Moses), and must, therefore, have been in effect before the Babylonian Exile.
The seventh day was earmarked as a a day of rest, because God was supposed to have rested on the seventh day after creating the world in six days.

I have heard that Constantine caused it to be changed among Christians to the first day, because this day (sunday) was already a special one to the then-numerous worshippers of the Sun. But some Christians, including the Seventh Day Adventists, have returned to the seventh day.

To have a day of rest on the day of the resurrection does not seem more appropriate than to have a day of rest on the day between the crucifixion and the resurrection. Indeed, that day might seem, to Christians, the more appropriate one: the old order has been overturned, God has once again completed a great work, and the new order is going to start with the first day of the new week.

teri tait
2005-Dec-24, 04:32 PM
All calandars do is confound historical data, there are so many different ones you could stack em all atop one another and probably have a day of rest everyday...twice.