I was driving somewhere on some errand this weekend when I heard a little story on NPR.  You know the kind I’m talking about, the little 2 minute fluff pieces they use to fill time.  Well this one was about some dude who made bumper stickers that said “The Labor Movement, the folks who brought you the weekend” or something like that. 


I wanted to know if that was true, when did the weekend really start and who was responsible for it?  Well, it isn’t really all that clear, but . . .  According to NPR, we can thank a bunch of people including some unlikely allies like the labor movement and Henry Ford. 

Those of us steeped in one form or another of the Judeo- Christian tradition know that a day of leisure has been around since the beginning.  Genesis 2:2 says: “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.”  So, a day of rest is an old and cherished concept, but why two days in a row?


Well, at least in the US, looks like we can thank the influx of Jewish immigrants in the 1800s.  See, the Jewish Sabbath is on Saturday.  So, according to NPR, in order to accommodate the religious beliefs of Jewish workers, factories started to shut down on Saturday and to accommodate the Christian workers factories shut down on Sunday.  Hey, that’s a weekend!  Nice. 


But I wonder if all of this would have caught on if it were not for good old American capitalism.  You see, in the 1900s Henry Ford wanted to sell more cars.  He thought a good place to start was to sell them to his employees.  In order to do that, he needed them to have a reason to buy car.  So Henry it seems, invented the road trip. In order to accommodate the road trip old Henry started giving his employees both Saturday and Sunday off.  And we have had a weekend ever since.


I don’t know who we really have to thank for this marvelous invention, but thanks anyway.  I just wonder why they couldn’t have come up with a third day?


You can see the NPR story at http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/09/04/pm-history-of-the-weekend/