Thursday, 2013-02-14

Week numbers

If you live in Sweden and have a passing connection to children (you may have one or more, or you’re at a workplace where people are breeders) it’s hard to avoid mentions of week numbers.

This is because that for schools (and in extension, pre-schools) find week numbers convenient for any number of uses. The school year is naturally divided into weeks, so it’s very usual to see directions such as “we are planning a theater visit in week 44”.

Another week number that’s become almost iconic is “vecka 9” (week 9), which refers to the annual sports vacation, of a week’s duration, in Stockholm and surrounding latitudes[1]. As this is a week when lots of people head north to the Swedish ski areas this is a linchpin for vacation planning.

Thinking of weeks comes in handy for vacation planning too. Swedes have long vacations so covering the entire summer vacation season can be quite complicated. The week is a good unit to address this.

If you’re unsure of the ISO week number you can visit the single-serving website which will help you out. If you’re on a unix, try date +%V.[2]

I’m interested to know if this common outside Scandinavia, though. Mundane daily items such as school schedules are one of the things that are seldom exposed in popular culture, so I have no idea how a school year is presented in the US or the UK, for example.

[1] In the south of Sweden this is week 8.

[2] %W may give you the week that starts on the first Monday, man strftime is your friend in these cases.