Why You Don’t Know the Days of the Week as Well as You Thought

When traveling, you have to be on your toes!

Keep on your toes gif ballerina gif

I put my guard down once.

I was booking flights from Dublin to Edinburgh, Scotland, for myself and a friend. “What day do we want to fly over there?” I asked her.

“Snovember 35th*,” she said.

*Note: Date has been changed.

And so I chose that date accordingly on the reservation form.

You know how forms online have little calendars for you to click on a day, making it easier to visually pick a return day rather than manually entering a date or trying to remember a number?

Mini calendar

I love these things.

And most miniature things. Miniature dolls. Miniature foods. Miniature furniture. Miniature clothes. Miniature calendars.

mini dog

You get the gist. But this was one miniature thing I’ve come to hate.

“And what day do we need to come back?” I asked my friend. We both had school and work the following week.

“I don’t know the date – whatever that Monday is,” she replied. “Book a flight in the morning.”

And so I cheerfully clicked the second box from the left on the next line, to book us a trip to Edinburgh Friday to Monday!

So why did we end up in Edinburgh with an extra night after our hotel reservation was up? (Somebody else made the hotel reservation.) Why was I in big trouble with my friend? Why was I the butt of endless jokes?

Let’s see if you would make the same mistake:



Answer: Much of the world recognizes Monday as the first day of the week, as ISO 8601 specifies. That’s an international standard for dates and times, making it easier to exchange data between countries that may have previously used different standards (like my above problem). It was published by the International Organization for Standardization (yes, that’s a thing) in 1988.

(Coincidence that the world tried to dishonor Sunday by stripping it of its “first day of the week” title the same year I was born? I think not. Watch out, Sunday.)

But, just like the metric debacle, the U.S. bucks most attempta at international standards, this time by sticking with the Judaic, Christian, Islamic, etc. traditions of Sunday being the first day of the week.

Translation: Extra day in Edinburgh!

P.S. And it was awesome.

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  1. The world be damned….SUNDAY is the first day of the week! But thanks for the heads up.

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