It Has NOT Been 823 Years Since the Last Time October Had 5 Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays

Myth: It has been 823 years since the last time October had 5 Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays

You may have seen this spread about in little cartoon pictures and on twitter/facebook/etc. In fact, it’s actually not rare at all for this to happen (last time it happened was 2004). It actually happens in the following pattern for months containing 31 days, not just October; every: 6 years, then 5 years, then 6 years, then 11 years then repeat. (the non-uniform pattern is due to leap years.) We are currently finishing that third “6 year”, so the last time was 2004, then 1999 (five years), then 1993 (6 years), so the next one will be in 2021.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the 823 years “fact” is a myth. There are only seven days in a week. Thus, there are only seven possible days for the year to start on. This means that, without leap years, there are only seven possible calendars. When you add in leap years, there are only fourteen possible calendars. Thus, even without looking into it any further than this, the likelihood of one of these fourteen possible calendars happening only once every 823 years is pretty much zero. It just doesn’t make any sense, once you think about it.

What’s even more strange about this recently popularly spread myth is that, if you go back 823 years from today (1187), that October didn’t have 5 Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays either. The closest years to that date where October had five Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays are 1182 and 1193. So, apparently, the instigators of this myth probably were doing it just to see if it would catch on and, fortunately for them, few people bother questioning things they learn, particularly little quick “facts”; this includes news organizations, such as CNBC, where bestselling author, financial adviser, motivational speaker, producer, and CNBC TV show host Suzy Orman herself helped spread this myth.

Bonus Facts:

  • October got its name from the Latin “octo”, meaning “eight”. If this seems odd to you, considering it’s the tenth month in the modern day calendar (Gregorian), that actually used to not be the case. It was once the eighth month (in the Roman Calendar) and the name simply carried over.
  • In terms of seasons, October in the Southern Hemisphere is equivalent to April in the Northern hemisphere.
  • In Canada, Thanksgiving is on the second Monday in October.
  • The birthstone for October is the opal. Opals historically were thought to predict illness. How this idea came about is thought to be because opals are sensitive to changes in temperature, in terms of very slightly changing their appearance (shininess), and a sudden increase in body temperature tends to herald certain types of illnesses.
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