Saturday is the day of the week following Friday and preceding Sunday. Saturday is the second-to-last (sixth) day of the week according to ISO 8601 (see below). The Romans named Saturday Sāturni diēs ("Saturn's Day") no later than the second century for the planet Saturn, which controlled the first hour of that day, according to Vettius Valens. The day's name was introduced into West Germanic languages and is recorded in the Low German languages such as Middle Low German sater(s)dach, Middle Dutch saterdag (Modern Dutch zaterdag) and Old English Sætern(es)dæġ and Sæterdæġ. Notwithstanding the name was selected as a calque of the god Saturn, after whom the planet was named. The day was additionally referred to as "Sæternes dæġe" in an Old English translation of Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People. In Old English, Saturday was additionally known as sunnanæfen ("sun" + "eve" cf. dialectal German Sonnabend).

Origins in antiquity

Saturday is named after the planet Saturn, which in turn was named after the Roman god Saturn

Between the first and third centuries AD, the Roman Empire gradually replaced the eight-day Roman nundinal cycle with the seven-day week. The astrological order of the days was explained by Vettius Valens and Dio Cassius (and Chaucer gave the same explanation in his Treatise on the Astrolabe). According to these authors, it was a principle of astrology that the heavenly bodies presided, in succession, over the hours of the day. The association of the weekdays with the respective deities is thus indirect, the days are named for the planets, which were in turn named for the deities.

The Germanic peoples adapted the system introduced by the Romans but glossed their indigenous gods over the Roman deities in a process known as interpretatio germanica. In the case of Saturday, however, the Roman name was borrowed directly by Westgermanic peoples, apparently because none of the Germanic gods were considered to be counterparts of the Roman god Saturn. Otherwise Old Norse and Old High German didn't borrow the name of the Roman god (Icelandic laugardagur, German Samstag).

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Saturdays are days on which the Theotokos (Mother of God) and All Saints are commemorated, and the day on which prayers for the dead are especially offered, in remembrance that it was on a Saturday that Jesus lay dead in the tomb. The Octoechos contains hymns on these themes, arranged in an eight-week cycle, that are chanted on Saturdays throughout the year. At the end of services on Saturday, the dismissal begins with the words: "May Christ our True God, through the intercessions of his most-pure Mother, of the holy, glorious and right victorious Martyrs, of our reverend and God-bearing Fathers…". For the Orthodox, Saturday — with the sole exception of Holy Saturday — is never a strict fast day. When a Saturday falls throughout one of the fasting seasons (Great Lent, Nativity Fast, Apostles' Fast, Dormition Fast) the fasting rules are always lessened to an extent. The Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross and the Beheading of St. John the Baptist are normally observed as strict fast days, but if they fall on a Saturday or Sunday, the fast is lessened.

Saturday Sabbath

For Jews, Messianics, Seventh Day Baptists and Seventh-day Adventists, the seventh day of the week, known as Shabbat (or Sabbath for Seventh-day Adventists), stretches from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday and is the day of rest. Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches distinguish between Saturday (Sabbath) and the Lord's Day (Sunday). Other Protestant groups, such as Seventh-day Adventists, hold that the Lord's Day is the Sabbath and not Sunday. From Scriptures, Jesus rested in the grave on the Sabbath day, which is the day after the day of preparation. In this way, Jesus rested as God did in the beginning throughout the creation. Quakers traditionally refer to Saturday as "Seventh Day", eschewing the "pagan" origin of the name. In Islamic countries, Fridays are considered as the last day of the week and are holidays along with Thursdays; Saturday is called Sabt (cognate to Sabbath) and it is the first day of the week in a large number of Arab countries.

Name and associations in European cultures

In Scandinavian countries, Saturday is called lördag, "lørdag," or laurdag, the name being derived from the old word laugr/laug (hence Icelandic name Laugardagur), meaning bath, thus Lördag equates to bath-day. This is due to the Viking practise of bathing on Saturdays. The roots lör, laugar and so forth are cognate to the English word lye, in the sense of detergent. The Finnish and Estonian names for the day, lauantai and laupäev, respectively, are additionally derived from this term.

Today, Saturday is officially called Samstag in all German-speaking countries, but there it has two names in modern Standard German. Samstag is always used in Austria, Liechtenstein, and the German-speaking part of Switzerland, and generally used in southern and western Germany. It derives from Old High German sambaztac, which itself derives from Greek Σάββατο, and this Greek word derives from Hebrew שבת (Shabbat). Notwithstanding the current German word for Sabbath is Sabbat. The second name for Saturday in German is Sonnabend, which derives from Old High German sunnunaband, and is closely related to the Old English word sunnanæfen. It means literally "Sun eve", i.e., "The day before Sunday". Sonnabend is generally used in northern and eastern Germany, and was additionally the official name for Saturday in East Germany.

In West Frisian there are additionally two words for Saturday. In Wood Frisian it is saterdei and in Clay Frisian it is sneon, derived from snjoen, a combination of Old Frisian sunne, meaning sun and joen, meaning eve.

In the Westphalian dialects of Low Saxon, in East Frisian Low Saxon and in the Saterland Frisian language, Saturday is called Satertag, additionally akin to Dutch Zaterdag, which has the same linguistic roots as the English word Saturday. It was formerly thought that the English name referred to a deity named Sætere who was venerated by the pre-Christian peoples of north-western Germany, a few of whom were the ancestors of the Anglo-Saxons. Sætere was identified as either a god associated with the harvest of possible Slav origin, or another name for Loki a complex deity associated with both good and evil; this latter suggestion might be due to Jacob Grimm. Notwithstanding modern dictionaries derive the name from Saturn.

Outside Europe

The modern Maori name for Saturday, rahoroi, literally means "washing-day" - a vestige of early colonised life when Māori converts would set aside time on the Saturday to wash their whites for Church on Sunday. A common alternative Māori name for Saturday is the transliteration Hatarei.

In Japanese, the word Saturday is 土曜日(do youbi), meaning 'soil day' and is associated with 土星 (dosei): Saturn (the planet), literally meaning "soil star". Similarly, in Korean the word Saturday is 토요일 (tho yo il), additionally meaning soil day.

In India, Saturday is Shanivar, based on Shani, the Vedic god manifested in the planet Saturn. In the Thai solar calendar of Thailand, the day is named from the Pali word for Saturn, and the colour associated with Saturday is purple. In Pakistan, Saturday is Hafta, meaning the week.

Position in the week

The international standard ISO 8601 sets Saturday as the sixth day of the week. The three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) regard Saturday as the seventh day of the week. As a result, a large number of refused the ISO 8601 standards and continue to use Saturday as their seventh day.


In astrology, Saturday is aligned by the planet Saturn, it's planet's symbol , and the astrological signs of Capricorn and Aquarius.


  • Saturday is a weekend day in most countries (see Workweek).
  • In Nepal Saturday is the last day of the week and is the only official weekly holiday.
  • Saturday is the official day of rest in Israel, on which all government offices and most businesses, including a few public transportation, are closed.
  • Saturday is the usual day for elections in Australia, the only day on which elections can be held in New Zealand, and the preferred election day in the U.S. state of Louisiana.
  • Saturday morning is a notable television time block aimed at children while generally airing animated cartoons, though in the United States this has generally been phased out due to American television regulations requiring educational content be aired, along with Saturday outside activities for children.
  • It is common for clubs, bars and restaurants to be open later on Saturday night than on additional nights. Thus "Saturday Night" has come to imply the party scene, and has lent its name to the films Saturday Night Fever, which showcased New York discotheques, Uptown Saturday Night, as well as a large number of songs (see below).
  • In the United States, most regular season college football games are played on Saturday. Saturday is additionally a common day for college basketball games.
  • Saturday night is additionally a popular time slot for comedy shows on television. The most famous of these is Saturday Night Live, a skit show that has aired on NBC nearly every week after 1975. Other notable examples include Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell. This practise lent its name to the film Mr. Saturday Night, starring Billy Crystal.
  • In folklore, Saturday was the preferred day to hunt vampires, because on that day they were restricted to their coffins. It was additionally believed in the Balkans that someone born on Saturday could see a vampire when it was otherwise invisible, and that such people were particularly apt to become vampire hunters. Accordingly, in this context, people born on Saturday were specially designated as sabbatianoí in Greek and sâbotnichavi in Bulgarian; the term has been rendered in English as "Sabbatarians".
  • The amount of criminal activities that take place on Saturday nights has led to the expression, "Saturday night special" a pejorative slang term used in the United States and Canada for any inexpensive handgun.
  • In Sweden, Saturday has usually been the only day of the week when especially younger children are allowed to eat sweets, lördagsgodis. Lördag derives from lögardag; old word löga meaning to wash/clean. This tradition was introduced to limit dental caries, utilising the results of the infamous Vipeholm experiments between 1945-1955. See festivities in Sweden.
  • In the United Kingdom popular TV shows air on a Saturday Strictly Come Dancing, The Voice UK and The X Factor UK air on Saturday nights. Historically the most popular TV shows have aired on a Saturday.
  • In the United Kingdom Saturday is the day most domestic fixtures of Football are played.
  • The final of the popular pan-European TV show the Eurovision Song Contest has always aired on a Saturday.

In popular culture

Named days