Monday, Monday


I have just finished doing something politically correct, albeit not very environmentally friendly. What is worse, I find myself doing the same thing every year at this time.

I throw away all the calendars I receive which purport to show the week starting on a Sunday. I only retain the one which – correctly -- shows that each week begins on a Monday.

There, I've said it out loud.

How can I be sure that this meticulous approach is justified? Simple, there are three impeccable authorities on the subject that I know of and possibly many more.

The first is the Chinese language itself. The Cantonese for Monday, roughly translated, is "first day of the week". Tuesday is "second day of the week" and so on. No ifs or buts, no caveats, Chinese tells it like it is. Since we live in a predominantly Chinese community, many would say that was enough. But there is more.

The Bible – and many Hong Kong people consider themselves to be Christian whether or not they regularly attend church – is absolutely clear on the subject. God created the world and all the things in it during the first six days "and on the seventh day, He rested". What better authority than the Bible itself, and absolutely unambiguous.

God didn't start the week by resting, and then grudgingly getting up to create the world during the following days, which is what so many discarded calendars portray. He did the work first, and then put his feet up to enjoy a well earned rest. Since Sunday is the day Christians set aside as the rest day for observance, the seventh day must be Sunday.

And finally there is an important organisation based in Europe (the secretariat is in Geneva) called, in French, "L'Organisation Internationale de Normalisation" which we know in English as the International Standards Organisation (hence the term ISO) which has ruled on the issue many years ago.

The first day of the week is Monday. ISO 8601 defines the first week as the week containing the first Thursday. That is a rather colloquial abbreviation. More formally, the first week of a year is the period beginning on Monday ending on Sunday with four or more days from the new year.

What relevance does this have to Hong Kong? Many years ago a young Administrative Officer in the government became annoyed by diaries which started the week on Sunday. He researched the subject, found the ISO reference, and sought approval for the government to formally adopt the international standard.

Since that time, all government diaries show the week correctly as do diaries produced by private companies. It is decades since I received a diary from anyone using the wrong format.

But the message hasn't yet got through to the majority of calendar makers.

"Monday, Monday" the Mammas and Pappas used to sing "Can't trust that day". You can trust the day, it's the calendar people who are unreliable. Get with the programme, chaps.

And absolutely no prizes for guessing the identity of that young Administrative Officer.


 
Mike Rowse
email: mike@rowse.com.hk