Five Long Weekends

Recently a whole lot of noise was made and reams of paper were covered in fine print to make us realize how unique this July 2011 has been. We have been told that this phenomenon of a month having 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays is a rare occurrence. Someone said that this has happened after 823 years and then someone else came along and disputed this figure. Newspapers not normally inclined to accept their mistakes did so with alacrity, and they had good reason to do so it was someone else’s mistake that they were foregrounding.

The 24X7 purveyors of nonsense have as usual gone to town, breaking all kinds of news and inviting all manner of soothsayers, numerologists, tarot-card readers, palmists, astrologists and other purveyors of superstition to respond to the breathless inanities of the perpetually excited anchors about the cataclysmic significance of these five long weekends coalescing at the peak of the Monsoon Season.

The attention of those pushing for FI in consumer trade has been drawn to the phenomenon and they have begun to suggest that if Manmohan Singh had moved in time and had Wal-Mart been in place, what a phenomenal season of splurging in weekend sales the Indian consumer would have indulged in during the unprecedented 5 long weekends of July and had Indian entrepreneurs been given the opportunity to invest in such ventures what a killing we could all have made at the bourses. The very idea of having missed these 5 long weekends of non stop shopping has sent many shopaholics go weak-kneed with frustration.

All those God men who are still alive and not running away from the noose of the Tax man have begun cursing their collective luck at not looking at the calendar closely and missing the great opportunity of having 5- three day camps, selling whatever brand of faith they sell. Yoga Gurus, Fitness Freaks, White, Saffron, Red, Blue, Green robed Godmen and Godwomen have descended into the depths of depression contemplating the loss of humanity that has been denied the opportunity of sitting devotedly, listening to them, all because of the lack of foresight of the backroom boys who manage these soirees.

But throughout this national engagement no one had bothered to look at why did this happen and to ask whether this was such a rare occurrence at all. The question should have occurred to anyone with a minimum modicum of common sense.

Not surprisingly the question did not occur to anyone. Except for this young man called Subhash. The son of a washerman who lives in Rangpur Pahari and has recently learnt to work with the computer. So he opened the calendar on a computer in his office at Knowledge Infrastructure Systems at the district commercial centre Jasola and checked back and forth, came and told me and this is what he found.

Similar occurrences in the month of July can be found fairly regularly. This happened in 2005 in 1988 and in 1983 and this convergence will recur again in 2016. If you are not stuck up with the month of June then cases of this “rare occurrence” have also happened in other months in a not too distant past. In fact in 2010 it happened in the months of January and October. There were 5 Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in the month of May in 2009 and it happened also a year earlier in the month of August 2008.

After all if you have 7 months in a year that have 31 days and a week has only 7 days then it is logical that almost every other month will have three days that would appear five times.The occasions when Friday, Saturday and Sunday will appear 5 times in any month would have followed a very regular pattern had we not added an extra day in each leap year. The 29th day in February, makes the entire operation arrhythmic, but it does not throw the works so out of gear that centuries will have to roll by before this “remarkable” event would recur.

So next time some joker arrives and tells you something is a rare occurrence, don’t fall for it. Turn the pages of old calendars, and use your common sense.

7 thoughts on “Five Long Weekends”

  1. To be sure the next such combo of five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays in the same month would have happened in March 2013.
    Why do I say “would have happened”?
    Don’t you know the world is going to end in 2012… So there is going to be no March 2013. :)

    The other irritating variant of this will be seen 11th of November this year at which point it will be 11/11/11. People will actually have babies delivered by Cesarean section as close as possible to 11:11 AM on that day.


  2. I get the antipathy to making a mountain out of nothing especially when its media tamashaa over trivialities when there is so much else going on in India. I also get the anitpathy to making a furore out of it, using astrology/feng-shui whatever to further hasty and ill-advised liberalization. But why the complete dismissal of trivia per se? Especially if it is just trivia for trivia’s sake and valid, interesting trivia too! 2011 has three distinctions. Apart from its July having Fri-Sun’s, its does have four interesting dates — 1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11. And if you add the last two digits of the year in which you were born to the age you will be this year, the results will be either 111 or 11 no matter who you are, so long as you are still alive. The latter is just basic numerical sense. If there are people whose belief system relates such numbers/patterns to wealth ,let me them keep believing it, so long as others who dont, do not have to put up with reams of newsprint on the matter.


  3. I would like to point out my learnings on the annual shopping cycle – July being the beginning of monsoon and end of summer falls into a dip in shopping. in fact, most apparel products go into discount sale till 15 August. and it is generally an inauspicious time to buy anything big for the superstitious commercial castes. The festive season starts with Dussehra and that is the key shopping period till Diwali. The weekends between Dussehra and Diwali are when the most intense shopping happens for all categories of consumer goods and even investment goods due to it being an auspicious period. the other intense periods of shopping are defined by auspicious dates for weddings – these fall in the end of November and a smaller season (in importance) in end April-May.


  4. so now we know that having five long weekends in July is not such a hot thing as it was being made out to be, not at least from the point of view of the shoppers, since this is hardly the most auspicious time for “shop till you drop” kind of shopping. Some one should tell all these mall operators that having big ticket Monsoon Gala Sales is not such a bright idea after all. I stand corrected.But what about the rest of the stuff, should we send that to the cleaners as well.


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