By: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (All links open new windows)
In cultures with a six-day workweek, the day of rest derives from the culture’s main religious tradition: Friday (Muslim), Saturday (Jewish and Seventh-day Adventist), and Sunday (most Christian). However, numerous countries have adopted a two day weekend over the past several decades, i.e. either Thursday-Friday, Friday-Saturday, or Saturday-Sunday.
In 1926 Henry Ford began shutting down his automotive factories for all of Saturday and Sunday. In 1929 the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America Union was the first union to demand a five-day workweek and receive it. After that, the rest of the United States slowly followed, but it was not until 1940, when a provision of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act mandating a maximum 40 hour workweek went into effect, that the two-day weekend was adopted nationwide.
Over the succeeding decades, particularly in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, an increasing number of countries adopted either a Friday-Saturday or Saturday-Sunday weekend to harmonize with international markets. For example, a series of workweek reforms in the mid-to-late 2000s and early 2010s brought much of the Middle East in synchronization with the majority of countries around the world, in terms of working hours, the length of the workweek, and the dates of the weekend.