Welcome to October 2011… but don’t believe the hype


Did you receive a message talking about money bags… and how this October had five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays… and how it only happens every 800-plus years… and how prosperity for all awaits in our future if we pay attention?

So did I.

And there’s lots of great stuff here. Stuff to laugh at… stuff to raise an eyebrow over… stuff to make you shrug your shoulders in disinterest… stuff to shake your head at in disbelief. But I think what I enjoy the most is how stupid it makes people look. Or, more to the fact, how vividly it points out that people aren’t paying attention.

But… hey… why let something like a fact or two get in the way of a great story?

This particular e-mail has been circulating for well over a year. And if you don’t believe me, then it didn’t hit you that October 1st of 2011 was a Saturday. Yeah, that’s right. There aren’t five Fridays in October of 2011. The closest October that could make that claim was October of 2010.

So we haven’t even left the gate and there’s a huge hole in this one. But of course… it gets better.

The legendary e-mail notes that we only get an October with five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays once every 823 years.

That’s what the e-mail I received said.

Once every 823 years.

In order for any month to have five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays, two things need to happen. If either of these things isn’t true, you don’t get the five full and magical and cash-filled weekends.

Number one, the month must have 31 days. (January, March, May, July, August and December are all capable of joining October in the five-weekend ranks.)

Number two, the first day of that month must be a Friday. (Sorry 2011. No historic October combination for you.)

And that’s pretty much it. Those are the facts of the situation. Fulfill both and… presto… five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays.

So… facts of the situation… well, here are some interesting facts about October.

In any calendar year, only the month of January will start on the same day of the week as October. And every four years… in “leap year”… no other month in that calendar year will start on the same day of the week as October.

“Octo-” actually refers to the number eight. So why is October the tenth month? Because of the addition of January and February to the Roman calendar. You can trace this change back about five hundred years. Honestly though, we can go back well beyond that in some calendars.

It is the only month when you could find all of the major four professional sports leagues in North America playing… baseball, football, basketball and hockey.

Those are facts.

Might require a bit more detail. We could go into other ancient calendars and even look for more striking ideas.

Still… as I write you today… facts.

Want some fiction?

The first day of October only hits a Friday once every 823 years.

That’s a good one.

I mean… come on… that one had you thinking “well, that can’t be right” when you read the e-mail. Didn’t it?

Oh yeah, the old Leap Year idea may make an appearance or two in any cycle… so October 1st is not a Friday every seven years. But that once-every-823 thought? Apparently we’re in quite a rare stretch of exceptions-to-the-rule since it also happened in 2004 and will occur again in 2021.

Truthfully… it’s not that rare. And I saw versions of the same e-mail bragging about May and August, and… just change the names around and the same information is true. It doesn’t happen once every 823 years. Not in October. Not in May. (Not when Sam eats green eggs and ham.)

So that’s fiction.

But that’s not why I came to talk to you today.


Instead the part I’m wondering about is the old money bags. Where did that part come from?

Just about anyone that receives a paycheck can tell you about those thrilling and glorious months of the extra check. There are variances here too. Some based on whether you get paid once a week… once every other week… once a month… whatever. What day are paychecks issued? The result can be… oh look at that… a month with an extra check. Part of 52 not being neatly divisible by 12 or some associated concept.

I suppose that could be a part of it. These months with those extra days will average an extra weekly payday three times out of every seven years. Not bad odds.

I believe Chinese feng shui and the Happiness Buddha offer money bag ideas… but most of this is based on coins, the color red, and other thoughts that don’t fall in line with “octo” and the tenth month of the year.

Definitions of October or moneybags offer no help. Nothing overlaps to bring them together.

Doesn’t seem like I’m going to settle this one, does it?

Well… maybe I can.

Have you ever heard of Our Lady of Good Remedy?

According to what I could find… and it’s the internet, so I researched a lot of different places to get the basic elements of the story while looking for some consistency, but trust this as you wish… we could be looking at origins with a religious conflict.

You’ll never guess how long ago this story begins. Sure… slightly over 800 years ago.

The central idea was that Moslems were capturing Christians. To buy their freedom, a group called the Trinitarians raised large sums of money to be used. Over decades, thousands were freed.

So… without getting too deeply into the story, or investigating what is potentially really sensitive material… just from the surface details we’ve got the 800-plus years and lots of money.

Turns out that a day in celebration of “Our Lady of Good Remedy” was set aside by the church.

That would be October 8th.

It may not be perfect… but I’m starting to see a yellow, waddling, quacking form taking shape.

There may be reasons… and actually I’m not sure I haven’t stumbled more into coincidence than an origin… for October to hold financial fortune. The five weekends isn’t it though. That part’s not rare.

Don’t let me stand in the way of you enjoying the month of October. I certainly hope you find health and happiness and prosperity. Have a ball.

But don’t believe the hype.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com