When I was a kid growing up in the ’70s and ’80s in Montreal, stores were closed on Sundays. Every single store. Every single Sunday.
Sure, at the dépanneurs (corner stores) you could get milk, candy, smokes, and maybe some Wonder Bread, but there wasn’t much other opportunity to buy stuff.
The Lord’s Day Act was a legally mandated day of rest, grounded in Judeo-Christian scripture: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy … For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.”
It seems pretty quaint to remember how quiet Sundays used to be. At least we could go to the movies, though. (Until the 1960s, the law didn’t even allow for sports and entertainment events on Sundays, let alone business.)
The Lord’s Day Act was struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1985 as being against citizens’ right to freedom of religion, since it essentially forced non-Christians to observe a Christian tradition. Maybe this was the tipping point where Canadians started rushing headlong into today’s nearly universal religion of consumerism. (Later the same year, the first Costco opened in Canada. Make of that what you will.)
Now we can head to a fully stocked grocery store at 9 p.m. on Sunday—or order anything we want, from anywhere in the world, at any time of day or night—and in many ways, life is more convenient. But it’s hard not to feel nostalgic for a time when our society at least paid lip service to the idea of a general day of rest.
Obviously, even back then, not everyone was able to take Sundays off. But somehow we’ve gotten ourselves to a place where we offer unironic congratulations to someone who’s declared that for once they’re not going to check their email this weekend.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if we all stepped collectively away from work and commerce one day a week? It wouldn’t fix all our modern-day chronic work issues, but imagine if we all agreed to slow down on Sundays. (Or what if we cut out Mondays instead? Nobody likes Mondays.)
We’d put our cards and cash away. Leave the car in the driveway. Stay off the computer… and do something that fills our souls. Not just once in a while—once every week.
I’m calling for a rest revolution. Who’s in? Start by accepting this as an invitation to put up your feet, set aside some time, and enjoy stories that look at rest from many different angles as you dive into our winter issue.
As usual, I’ve been amazed and delighted at the stories we get to share, and the talented storytellers and photographers who light up the pages with their inventiveness, wit, and care. I hope you get as much out of this issue as we got while putting it together.