a month of sundays

Definition: A very, very long time.

Example: Surveying the damage after the party, Martin realised it would take a month of Sundays to get it all cleared up, especially that stuffed moose head stuck in the toilet.


To dig deeper into the origin of this idiom, we need to define its meaning mathematically. A Month of Sundays is not just a very, very long time. It the calendar period it would take to rack up 30 or 31 Sundays, namely 30 or 31 weeks.

The phrase first appears in print in 1759, during a time when the Sabbath was observed much more closely then than it is today. Not only was it a day of rest as it is still considered to be in Christian societies now, it was strictly enforced. You were not meant to work, you were required to attend church, give thanks, and not allowed to indulge in any pleasures. Puritanical societies considered music, drinking, feasting, dancing, and almost any other activity out of bounds on the Sabbath.

Iddy thinks the portrait of Whistler’s mother, painted a hundred years later, probably sums up Sundays under those conditions. Dress in black. Frown. Sit quietly and stare at the wall. Make sure you are sitting in a normal chair, not a rocker. Rocking on a Sunday would be too much like fun.

Sundays would be very boring indeed. A month of Sundays would be interminably long.

Co-incidentally, those 30 weeks are about the same length as a typical pregnancy. Iddy wonders if there’s a connection. I think most mothers would agree those nine months feel very long indeed!

Iddy’s mother doesn’t agree. Iddy was a bit slow. He took a year and a half to make his appearance. That’s two months of Sundays.

3 Responses

  1. I Have Heard This Expression All My Life, But Never Knew If It Meant 4-5 Sundays You Would Observe In A Month Or 30-31 Sundays. Now, I Completely Understand Its Meaning!!

    1. I was watching Z Cars. And heard the expression. I thought it must mean a month. But now I get it. Thirty weeks. Yep. I’ve got it!

  2. first found in 1759 interesting
    i think you are all wrong
    i think this phrase has something to do with the calander change,
    in 1752 september 3rd thru the 13 failed to exist, we went ftom 9-3-1752 to 9-14’1752, we went from a friday to a thursday over night,
    and since both calendars are religious in nature and sunday being the lords day, the expression was we might as well just have a month of sundays, give us back our 11 days, over time and translation it ended up being
    just “a month of sundays” since this first appeared in print within a few years of the calander change, it most likely like mist most idioms are in the verbal only stages for awhile before actually in any published print.
    example: lol. was being used informally for abouf 5 years before it was formally recognized, most if not all idioms and slangs start out verbally, created by one person and heard and then repeated by another and so on and so on. just like everything the true origins will never be credited to the original speaker,
    in 1750’s. the ability to read and to write was not a common thing within the masses. kinda like it is now,
    allhough i would like to think that the percentage of the people back then that could read and write was lower than now a days. but globally i am not sure of it. so starting in October 1582 and going until 1927 days have been added snd subtracted around the world, actually there was sn island nation recently rhat skipped december 31. but the expression being in print a few years after britain changed calendars, tells me that in 1752 September 6th which would have been sunday changed to the 14th and thursday, someone drinking mead was heard saying “all this for the pope, what’s next a month of sundays so he can fill his coffers”

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