General Question

mattbrowne's avatar

Why does the whole world run on a 7-day system per week (with 1 or 2 days of rest)?

Asked by mattbrowne (31724points) June 21st, 2009

Is this really the optimal system for human physiology? I heard the Soviet tried 10 days, but gave up. China doesn’t have Jewish roots and a reason to follow Genesis and the creation myth. We could have 6 or 8 or 9 or 11. Is there a good reason to stick with 7?

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13 Answers

nebule's avatar

I’m so with you on this one… There is of course the Mayan Calender and some people say our calender is all based on commerce and therefore making money… I’ve often wanted to bow out of the 7 day week…I think it would be so cool!

But alas… I don’t think you could give up time easily… and I think you would have to give up a lot of other things and live your life completely differently….

sanari's avatar

It is based on the solar year, and lunar month. Genesis is not the only source of the creation myth.

tyrantxseries's avatar

what names would you give for the other days?

marinelife's avatar

@sanari The lunar month is one theory. There is no single accepted origin.

Here are some of the theories that have been put forth with this excerpt:

“A solar year could be more evenly divided into weeks of 5 days, and the moon phases five-day and six-day weeks make a better short term fit (6 times 5 is 30) to the lunar (synodic) month (of about 29.53 days) than the current week (4 times 7 is 28). The seven-day week may have been chosen because its length approximates one moon phase (one quarter = 29.53 / 4 = 7.3825).”

sanari's avatar

For any belief under the sun – there is no single accepted origin/belief. Evolution, solar years, religion, lunar months, gravity… anything. It’s healthy to live with the expectation that anything that is presented has another explanation within a different group of people somewhere else.

benjaminlevi's avatar

And why have a system for measuring time thats based on 24 and 60 instead of on 10?

timothykinney's avatar

I think there may be some astronomy (or even astrology) mixed into this as well. Most ancient peoples were expert night-sky watchers. I wouldn’t be able to point anything out, but it’s worth looking into.

My favorite answer so far is about the phase of a moon being approximated by a week. That just makes sense.

Nially_Bob's avatar

Because it’s better than having an 8 day week (with 1 or 2 days of rest) ;)
In seriousness I would guess that it’s simply the system that stuck through time possibly indicating a general human preference towards it.

mattbrowne's avatar

@benjaminlevi – See you at 9:75 pm then.

RocketGuy's avatar

I think Greek scholars divided a circles into 360 degrees because that made it easily divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, ...

The clock was based on the sun dial, which had a circular face. They would have wanted to divide that into equal parts. I don’t know why 12 was chosen for daylight hours. 12 is divisible by 2, 3, 4, 6. Maybe that was adequate resolution for a day’s activities. Note that the full range of a sun dial is only half a day. By dividing daylight time into 12 hr, that resulted in a 24 hour full day cycle.

mattbrowne's avatar

@RocketGuy – Well, 7 is a prime number. Why was it chosen then?

RocketGuy's avatar

Perhaps 630° was too much (divisible by 2,3,4,5,6,7,9,10 – what about 8 now?!)

Anonymoususer's avatar

Didnt’ Ancient Egypt also try 10 days?

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