"Never on Sunday" was written by Manos Hadjidakis originally in Greek with the title "Ta Pedia tou Pirea" (The children of Piraeus). The original Greek version featured lyrics also written by Hadjidakis, and was performed in the film by Melina Mercouri. The original Greek lyrics (along with the foreign translations in German, French and Italian) tell the story of the main female character of the film, Illya (Mercouri). Illya is a jolly woman who enjoys life, the town and the people of her native Piraeus. Although she earns her money as a prostitute, she longs to meet a man someday who is just as full of joie de vivre as she is herself.
In 1960, the song was nominated and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, a first for a foreign-language picture since the Academy began to recognize achievements in this category in 1934.
In the UK there were five versions in the charts. They were Don Costa, reached number 27; Chaquito (actually Johnny Gregory), reached number 50; Lynn Cornell with the only vocal version in the UK charts, reached number 30; Makadopulos and his Greek Serenaders, reached number 36; and Manuel and his Music of The Mountains (actually Geoff Love), which peaked at number 29.
Italian (as "Uno a te, uno a me") by Dalida, Milva, Isabella Fedeli.
Spanish (as "Los niños del Pireo") by Dalida. "Nunca en Domingo" by Xiomara Alfaro.
English / Spanish (as "No Tengo Dinero") by Los Umbrellos, based on the melody.
German: Lale Andersen scored a number one hit in 1960 with the German-language version of the song titled "Ein Schiff wird kommen". It was also covered by Caterina Valente, Dalida, Lys Assia, Nana Mouskouri, Helmuth Brandenburg and Melina Mercouri. In 1982 the Neue Deutsche Welle band Der Moderne Man recorded a gay themed new wave version named "Blaue Matrosen" with the same German lyrics of Lale Andersen's version, but sung by a man.
Dutch (as "Waarom ben jij nooit op zondag vrij") by Mieke Telkamp, based on the melody.