First day of week in Sweden (was Re: [util-linux] cal doesn't honor first_weekday value from locale)

From: Christian Rose (
Date: 2001-11-23 13:47:21

Sorry for being so late with my reply. Clearly, there are several issues
at hand here, one of them being your claim that Sunday is used as first
day of the week in Sweden (the non-technical side of the story). I'll
start with that.

On Thu, 22 Nov 2001 wrote:
> > In other words, Sunday is shown as the first day of the week. This is
> > wrong for the Swedish locale, where the first day of week should be
> > Monday. If I use "cal -m" I get the correct behavior, but it is
> > troublesome that cal doesn't automatically adopt to the locale.
> The situation in Sweden is not different from that in many other
> Western European countries, where the traditional first day of
> the week is Sunday.  For financial-administrative purposes one
> usually counts starting at Monday.
> So, both are correct and very common.

No, not in Sweden. Sunday as the first day of the week is neither correct,
nor common, in Sweden. That's a fact.

> It does not suffice to point at the locale.
> (Indeed, the locale is constant and does not distinguish countries,
> so asking glibc does not yield any information.)

Ever wondered what "SE" in the locale name "sv_SE" is about? "US" in
"en_US"? Clearly, locales also distinguish between countries.

> Here at home I have wall calendars that start at Sunday and also
> ones that start with Monday. In Sweden it is also very common to
> start with söndag. Look for example at the calendars found at

As Martin pointed out, these are all very similar and most of them use the
same (american) web calendar script.

> In many languages I know short rhymes or poems.
> They all start at Sunday.
>      Vecka femtio två:
>      ...söndag, måndag, tisdag, onsdag, torsdag, fredag, lördag...

Never heard of that one (although I've lived in Sweden my entire life).

> In Germany, the word for Wednesday itself, Mittwoch, proclaims
> that it is the middle one among the seven days.

That's Germany, not Sweden. The Swedish word for Wednesday (onsdag)
doesn't have anything to do with the ordering of the week days, but comes
from the name of one of the ancient viking gods.

> Etc. In a situation like this, where there is a very strong tradition
> for Sunday as first day, and a newer, mostly commercial, numbering
> starting with Monday, there is no reason at all to change the utility
> cal. Stability is always a good idea.

Except that you are terribly mistaken in believing that any of this
applies to Sweden nowadays.
As Martin pointed out, Monday has been the official starting day of the
week in Sweden since at least 1972. Since at least that time, schools
have also teached out the weekdays with Monday as the starting day. People
who went to school before 1972 has also had plenty of time to adopt, since
there have hardly been any Swedish "Sunday as starting day" calendrars
available for decades, and most calendrars I know of don't cover 30
years, so it would surprise me if there were any calendrars from 1972
or before still actively used.

If you should ever meet a Swedish person that seriously claims that the
starting day of the week is Sunday, chances are that this person has been
in coma for 30 years, is mentally ill and doesn't know his own name, or is
so strictly religious that he ignores the time measurement of the rest of
the society (which would be very uncommon in Sweden, since a large number
of the population isn't practicing religion at all).

In fact, when asking friends and collegues about the first weekday, all of
them replied with Monday (which is hardly surprising giving the above),
but a large number of them also answered (when I told about why I was
asking) that they didn't even know that Sunday was used as the first day of
week in some countries. They assumed Monday was used as the first day
everywhere. That should provide something to think about.

Finally, just to give you some hard facts if you still refuse to believe,
I today made an investigation in a stationer's/book shop where I simply
examined every single calendar they had available and noted what the first
day of week was in it. The investigation included wall calendars, desk
calendars, diaries, pocket calendars, planners, basically everything that
had a week view and was for the coming year, 2002. I also sorted out
duplicates, i.e. calendars where the cover was different but the calendar
inside it was identical to another.

All in all, it took me 35 minutes or something like that. I investigated
91 calendars. They were from six publishing companies; five Swedish, and
one foreign (teNeues, I believe UK-based). I've attached the exact
results. To summarize, 6 (6.6%) of these 91 calendars used Sunday as the
first day of the week. All of them were from the foreign publisher
(teNeues). The rest, 85 calendars (or 93.4%) used Monday as the first day
of the week. In other words, 100% of the calendars produced in Sweden used
Monday as the first day of week.

So not only is Monday the official day of the week since 1972, you will
also have trouble finding any Swedish calendar using anything else, or a
person in Sweden claiming anything else besides Monday as the first day.

So we can conclude with the fact that a Swedish calendar, or a calendar on
a computer system configured to display Swedish time, that displays Sunday
as the first day of the week is:
  a) plain broken with respect to Swedish standards(*)
  b) not what almost any person using it would expect.

In other words, a bug.


(*) also international ones, but that was beside the point.

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