Sunday Funday

A buttoned-up Sunday starts in church, continues with mowing the lawn and concludes with a quiet at-home supper. And then there's Sunday Funday.

It's the rare Charleston bar or brunch spot that doesn't weekly scrawl "Sunday Funday" on its street chalkboard or hashtag the phrase on its Twitter feed. (Not that anyone waits for an official declaration of Sunday Funday, which is more a state of mind than a formal event.) Although the city doesn't have a monopoly on the concept, many Charlestonians believe they're preternaturally talented at day drinking.

"There is no city (in the four cities I've lived in and the many I have visited) that knows how to Sunday Funday the way Charleston does," local blogger Brooke Ryan declared in a 2012 post, written two years after the expression first appeared in The Post and Courier. "It starts with brunch and ends with debauchery."

Charleston takes its commitment to Sunday Funday so seriously that it's not uncommon for party-minded eaters and drinkers to skip Saturday night festivities in order to prepare for the next day's gastrocentric bacchanalia.

Sunday Funday observances are now cropping up across the country: The Dallas Morning News last month defined the practice for its readers as "a weekly drinking ritual for mostly 20-somethings" involving mimosas and dance music.

Sadly, there's no evidence that Charleston can take credit for the trend. According to lexicalist.com, which tracks word use on Twitter by state, the phrase "Sunday Funday" is far more popular in the Midwest: It's used twice as much in Iowa as South Carolina (city-level data isn't available through the site.)

Other states with strong Sunday Funday practices include Minnesota, Kansas and Delaware. Interestingly, the expression is never used in Alaska or Wyoming. Still, the Lexicalist reports "people are buzzing about this 138 percent more today than they were a month ago." On average, there's one instance of "Sunday Funday" for every 509,858 words tweeted.

While the phrase's derivation is obvious, it's unclear when it became synonymous with adult activities. Ben Zimmer, the language columnist for The Wall Street Journal and chair of the American Dialect Society's New Words Committee, says "Sunday Funday" has been used to describe programs since at least the 1940s.

"That was around the same time that "fun" was working its way into other words - for instance, 'fun-tastic,' which I've dated to 1939," he adds.

In its early years, "Sunday Funday" was typically applied to children's events. But the earliest print example found by Zimmer referred to a 1943 variety show at Fort Knox. "Sunday, Funday, Always" featured skits, songs and a soldier ventriloquist, which doesn't sounds too far removed from King Street on a Sunday afternoon.

Hanna Raskin