, Research Paper
Review of Waiting for the Weekend
In the opening chapter of Waiting for the Weekend, Witold Rybczynski analyzes free time. He explains the notion of five and two, and how the weekend is the most coveted time of the week. He explains how the weekend is more of a break from the regular week than free time. The five and two structure has affected leisure in the sense that we have a designated time to pursue whatever we wish. Leisure is vital to growth and development, and as Aristotle wrote, Happiness depends on leisure .
In his second chapter, Rybczynski researches how the seven-day week came about. As early as the third millennium, the Babylonians felt seven was a magical number. This is how it came to be prevalent in their calendar. This form then spread to Greece, Egypt, and Rome. Astrology played a major part in the naming of the days even though the week s order did not follow the planetary order. As Rybcznski stated, There is an air of mystery surrounding the week . It is basically a way to measure everyday, ordinary life.
In the chapter A Meaningful Day, Sunday is analyzed. It has been identified as everything from a tabooed day to a holy day to a day of rest. Sunday is the first day of the week although people often mistake Monday to be the corner of the week. Sunday is traditionally a day free from labor. In early times, it was forbidden to work on Sunday. In early America, blue laws were introduced. This puritan notion banned all commerce and labor as well as restricted certain activities. Many of these laws are still in effect in the present day.
The industrial revolution brought a substantial amount of growth to the leisure world. Leisure became a way for people to assert their status publicly. Rybczynski analyzes Georges Seurat s painting, which is pictured on the front of the book. The characters are together yet they are not socializing amongst each other. They seem to be disinterested in one another, rather enjoying themselves on a sunny afternoon. The painting shows that public leisure is without class and can be enjoyed at any time.
At the end of the eighteenth century a custom called Keeping Saint Monday came about. As in those days, the workweek went did not end until Saturday evening. Leaving only one day of idleness. This sparked Saint Monday, a self made holiday that s observed almost universally by factory workers and small industry workers. They reserved this day for relaxation or from recovering from drunkenness or both. This small holiday was said to have paved the way for the modern weekend. Work and play were now separated and now leisure had a time and place.
The notion of a world of weekends came about when America adopted Europe s idea of shorter workdays and shorter workweeks. Weekend travel became common with urbanization and people appreciated less work and more leisure. The weekend became a reward and people looked forward to different ways of spending their leisure hours. Traditions became prevalent such as Saturday nights out and Sunday outings. In Japan however, the weekend was still short due to the longer working conditions. Not until recently have the Japanese experienced the true weekend.
With the weekend available, it became common for people to retreat to the countryside. With a couple days off in a row, people began to travel and use their free time to experience leisure away from their homes. Another reason for people seeking leisure outside of the their cities was the rapid growth within the city. People became aware of the natural beauties of nature and began to leave the city to enjoy nature in its pure state. As bustling city life grew, people used the weekend retreat to escape and enjoy themselves.
Leisure became private and personal in the nineteenth century. People indulged in pastimes such as collecting, reading, gardening, and in modern leisure, television. People came to enjoy their solitude and with a personal hobby, people had the time and interest to do as they wished. Pastimes are a part of everyone s everyday life. With technology the way it is now, people have the freedom to enjoy several types of leisure and enjoy their free time in many ways.
The amount of free time is now greater than ever and many feel this could be a problem of leisure . It is said that less work leads to more free time, and more free time leads to idleness. I do not feel this is necessarily a bad thing. The weekend is here and many people fear this free time. Some people feel guilty about not working and are stricken with a sense of fear when it comes to leisure. I feel we work to have leisure. I believe in a moderation of work and leisure, too much of either one is not a good thing.