Wednesday’s Child

As they do from time to time, my birthday and Mother’s Day coincide this year. The last time that happened was 2017, six years ago; the next will be 2028, five years hence. I had to look that up.

The way that dates cycle erratically through the days of the week is not entirely clear to me. In theory, I get it: 365 days is not evenly divisible by 7, so we move by one day every year, except when we move by two for a Leap Year, but only after Feb 29. In practice, translating that into a pattern I can keep in my head has not yet happened. I’m guessing it won’t.

Others seem to have the same problem, including an astrophysicist and economist at John Hopkins University. Their solution? Make every year the same:

  • Start every year on the same day of the week (Sunday)
  • Follow that with four 3-month sets of two 30-day months and one 31-day month
  • Tidy up the whole with an end-of-year Leap Week every five or six years, a sort of week-out-of-time

I wonder how their proposal is being received. I find that people usually embrace change, don’t you?

“The natural date for the introduction of these changes is 1 January 2012,
because it is a Sunday in both the current Pope Gregory calendar
and the simple, new calendar,” the researchers wrote.

Yes, the article is from 2011. It seems that calendar reform hasn’t caught on. Colour me not surprised. Colour me a little disappointed, too: It would be nice to know the day of the week for any given date, at least going forward.

But colour me a bit relieved, too. I checked to see if Mother’s Day was May 14 in the year of my birth: 1952. Wouldn’t that be fun? Not so fast, Isabel. It turns out that I was born on a Wednesday. Oh, oh–what’s that doggerel?

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace.
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go.
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living.
And the child born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, good and gay.

Well, there you have it: I’m Wednesday’s child. Oh, woe. We’d have to go back a long way to make that calendar change, and I’m guessing that retroactive calendar reform would go over even less well than prospective reform, if it’s possible to do “less well” than an absolute non-starter.

Instead, I guess I’ll just appreciate that even if the day of my birth is celestially fixed, my birthday and I are free to roam erratically through the week and through all the diverse ways of being in the world.

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14 Responses to Wednesday’s Child

  1. John Whitman says:

    Isabel-now days all you have to do as you have already done is open your computer and Google any date on the calendar for any year and Google will tell what day of the week it was or will be. So changing to a different calendar probably won’t catch on.
    BTW: The Romans used the Julian calendar and the Christians gave up on using that when the Julian calendar had Christmas coming in the middle of the summer.
    BTW #2: 12 Dec 1948, the day I was born, was a Sunday – not that I am bragging

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – I guess their rationale for the change (apart from a tidiness impulse) is the cost of the schedule changes every year. But I agree that it’s not going to happen, even though we have adapted to some other changes on a similar scale. Does anyone else remember the fuss around going metric?

      • John Whitman says:

        Re schedule changes: If the dates for the days of the week didn’t change each year then there wouldn’t be a need for a new calendar each year. Calendar Club would go out of business and we wouldn’t have new pictures to look forward to each month. And don’t get me started on the current statutory holidays ……..

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          John – It’s true: some folks would lose their livelihoods if calendars disappeared. As for the new pictures, I tell you what: If they reform the calendar, I’ll send you new pictures monthly. I am confident I will not be called on to make good on this promise.

  2. Judith Umbach says:

    Only an economist would want to regulate our lives to that extent. (There are probably others, none of them artists.) The minor mental exercise of figuring out the day of the week is good for us. This morning I had woke up from such a good sleep that a perceptible amount of time passed before I remembered what day of the week it was, and I promptly fell asleep again since it was a Sunday.

    The best news is the excess of happiness: Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Birthday!!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – We’re now old enough that adapting to any change is likely good mental exercise! And I’m not sure that standardizing the calendar would alleviate that source of confusion for some of us…. With so much of my life not operating on any schedule, the benefit is hard to see. Many thanks for the greetings!

  3. Jim Taylor says:

    Apparently I’m Tuesday’s child — full of grace. But leave that aside. I seem to recall reading that when England went onto the Gregorian calendar, there were riots because some people thought the new calendar had taken 11 days out of their lives. So I don’t agree that people welcome change, unless it’s the latest iteration of the iPhone.

    Incidentally, why is no catching rhyme about the day you die? “Monday’s death is sweet and gentle, Tuesday’s death is fundamental…”

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – Maybe you can take that poem on. And maybe we would riot in the streets. More and more, that seems to be a preferred mode of political influence.

  4. barbara carlson says:

    TV’s OCD detective Adrian Monk says, “I don’t mind change. I just don’t want to be around when it happens.”

  5. Tom Watson says:

    Wednesday child or not, I’ve yet to see a whole bunch of woe in you.
    Keep smilin’!

  6. Talk about hubris! What about the forces beyond the names of the days having to shift their influences? Woden, Thor, and Frigga, the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter must have settled into their celestial routines and we, mere mortals, are going to insist they play musical chairs in their orbits? And where with that leave the astrologists and inventors of horoscopes? Wishing you a Happy Birthday, Joyous Mother’s Day, and a perfectly staid calendar (just in case).

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Hahaha. I guess the professors forgot to consider the gods. They wouldn’t be the first, or the last. Thanks for the good wishes, and Happy Mother’s Day to you.

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