Monday, 7 March 2016

The first Sunday ... way back on 7th March 321 A.D.

On this day in A.D. 321 the Roman Emperor, Constantine, issued an edict declaring that his subjects should henceforth observe Sunday, as a special day of rest. Today we tend to think of Constantine as the first Christian Roman Emperor, but he was also strongly associated with the pagan cult of Sol Invictus - the unconquered sun - after which he chose to name his special day.

Being a pragmatist he specified that the day of rest had to be observed by the non-essential workers in the cities who were obliged to close their workshops and take a day off. The folk who were involved in agriculture in the countryside, however, were given a special dispensation to carry on as normal - lest by neglecting the proper moment ... the bounty of heaven should be lost.

Sol Invictus was the official sun god of the later Roman Empire, and a patron of soldiers with a special appeal for the senatorial upper classes. Many Christians across the empire already treated Sunday as a day for religious observance, although a number in Rome and Alexandria preferred Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. And amongst the wider population Sunday was a popular day because it was frequently the workers' pay-day. 

So here's to Constantine, Sol Invictus, a day-off and the inauguration of a weekly holiday, a thoroughly civilised development.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

1 comment:

  1. It is funny you mention this...when I grew up, we didn't do laundry or mow yards, or do anything other than the cooking of meals and what had to be done as far as feeding the, Sundays are no different than the normal day. We do everything on Sunday...