MARTY RUSSELL: ‘Five’ in calendars comes ’round faster than emails cite



Calendars are human constructs and, as such, are naturally flawed. We invented them in an attempt to mark astronomical time, specifically the amount of time it takes the Earth to revolve once around the sun, a year.

Early man (and presumably woman) needed them in order to know when to plant, when to harvest and when to expect the cold winter months. Modern man (and presumably woman) uses them to mark birthdays, holidays and when to set the DVR to record our favorite TV programs, among other things, like knowing when Mondays and Fridays roll around.

But, because there are deviations in the Earth’s revolution around the sun, it’s never exactly the 365 days we call a year.

So, over those years, humans have attempted to improve on the calendar. The Chinese are credited with some of the earliest calendars but they never really caught on in the West probably because nobody wanted to be born in the Year of the Rat.

In the western world, there have been several attempts to create methods of marking time based on Christ’s birth completely disregarding the fact that nobody knew when that was. First there was the Gregorian calendar, but it resulted in being one day off every 2,500 years.

Despite the fact that most of us could use a day off, Julius Caesar came along with the Julian calendar which we still use today. It created a Leap Year every four years to compensate for the actual 365.24 days established by the Gregorian calendar.

There have been, of course, lots of other attempts to log the passing of time such as the Hebrew calendar, the Islamic calendar, the Indian calendar and the Mayan calendar which, if you subscribed to, you’d be dead by now.

So I was a little amused when people starting asking me about August. This August. Apparently there have been viral messages making their way around the Internet that this August will contain five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays, something, according to the messages, that only happens every 823 years or so and is supposed to bring good luck, especially if you still have five days of vacation saved up and can take each Friday off for five long weekends next month.

Truth is, and I hate to rain on your parade, it happens all the time. Any month with 31 days, like August, contains five instances of three days repeating. To get five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays, the month simply has to begin on a Friday. It will happen again next May. The next August when it occurs will be in 2025 when the 2014 calendar repeats itself, not quite 800 years from now.

As for the Chinese superstition that such months are known as either “silver pockets lining” or “money bags,” depending on the email suggesting it will bring you good luck and wealth, well, all I can tell you is, good luck with that.

Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at

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