diamond geezer

 Monday, February 19, 2018

It's Monday today.
People don't tend to like Mondays.
There seem to be too many Mondays.
But how many Mondays are there?

i) There's a Monday every seven days

I sometimes think the most powerful person in the history of the world is whoever it was decided there should be a holy day every seven days. They picked one particular day to be the very first day of the very first week, and that seven-day cycle has repeated ever since. Western civilisation operates to a specific weekly rhythm purely because that age-old historical figure started their sequence when they did. If you had a nice day off yesterday, but woke up this morning grumpy at having to go back to work, it's their fault.

ii) There have been a lot of Mondays

If we assume that the seven day week dates back to the ancient Babylonians, around 2350 BC, then there have been over 200000 Mondays altogether.

iii) The Romans were first to call them 'Moon' days

The Romans decided to name the days of the week after heavenly bodies, initially informally, around the first century AD. One such day was diēs Sōlis, the day of the Sun, followed by diēs Lūnae, the day of the Moon. There have been just under 100000 'Moon' days since this reckoning began. The emperor Constantine made the seven-day week official in AD 321, since when there have been approximately 88500 Moon days.

iv) 'Monday' is a more recent name

Around the turn of the first millennium, the Old English word for the "moon's day" was mōnandæg, which evolved to become monedæi. The final transition to Monday was complete sometime before 1200, which means there have been around 44000 Mondays since.

v) There aren't that many Mondays

The 20th century contained only 5217 Mondays. It was a cunning century, starting on a Tuesday and ending on a Sunday, so managed to avoid having 5218. But the 21st century will have 5218 Mondays (assuming we survive to the end).

vi) I've been alive for 2762 Mondays

I too was cunning, and started my life on a Tuesday to avoid an extra Monday. But there have been 2762 of the blighters in my life so far, that's since 1965. I reached 1000 Mondays in 1984 (at the age of 19) and 2000 Mondays in 2003 (at the age of 38). You probably didn't reach those totals in the same year, but you will have reached them at the same age.

vii) The average lifetime contains around 4000 Mondays

That's not many, is it? That almost sounds countable. What a depressing thought, that you'll only see 4000 of the the most depressing day of the week. But to look at things differently, you'll also see 4000 Saturdays and 4000 Sundays, on average, which is twice as many.

viii) I have 1500 Mondays to go

That's according to the government's latest life tables, which predict how many years the average man or woman still has to live, based on their current age. If you're 26 and averagely female you have 3000 Mondays left. If you're 42 and averagely male you have 2000 Mondays left. If you're 67 and female the number of Mondays you have left, on average, is still a four-digit number. I feel I don't want to dig any further into this.

ix) Most years contain 52 Mondays

But not all of them. This year started on a Monday, and ends on a Monday, so manages to squeeze in 53. You'd expect this to happen once every seven years, but leap years can also have 53 Mondays if they start on a Sunday, so that's one extra every 28 years. Overall, 18% of years have 53 Mondays (boo!) and 82% have 52 (hurrah!).

x) Not all Mondays are bad

Some Mondays are bank holidays, and most people enjoy Bank Holiday Mondays a lot more than an ordinary Monday. In the UK there are always at least four Bank Holiday Mondays a year - Easter Monday, two in May and one in August - and sometimes as many as six. The first Monday in January is a bank holiday three years out of seven, thanks to the way we delay the public holiday if New Year falls at a weekend. Plus there's a Bank Holiday Monday at Christmas four years out of seven, so long as 25th, 26th, 27th or 28th December falls on a Monday. This is sounding better already.

xi) Last year there were six Bank Holiday Mondays

2017 was great for Monday-haters, with the Christmas and New Year holidays both swallowing up a Monday. That left only 46 'working' Mondays, which is the least number possible. This happens in 21% of years, and will happen again in 2022 and 2023. However in 2018 New Year's Day hit Monday but Christmas won't, which makes 48 'working' Mondays, which is the greatest number possible. It's the same again next year, I'm afraid, indeed we get 48 'working' Mondays 43% of the time.

xii) The next Bank Holiday Monday isn't too far off

We last had a Bank Holiday Monday seven weeks ago on New Year's Day, and we have another in six weeks time, on Easter Monday. Hang on in there, spring is coming. The shortest possible gap between Bank Holiday Mondays is one week, as often happens between Christmas and New Year, and very occasionally happens between Easter Monday and the May Day holiday (as in 2011).

xiii) Sometimes the next Bank Holiday Monday is a long way off

The longest possible gap between Bank Holiday Mondays is 34 weeks, between the August Bank Holiday and Easter Monday, and happens when Christmas falls on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday and Easter is very late. This will next happen in six years time, between 26th August 2024 and 21st April 2025, so brace yourself. There will be four other bank holidays in that gap, of course, they just won't be on Mondays, so you may well have to go to work.

xiv) You don't always have to go to work on a Monday

As well as skipping work on Bank Holiday Mondays, your annual leave entitlement allows you to take other Mondays off. Take four weeks leave and that's another four Mondays gone, cutting the number of 'working' Mondays to 43 a year, on average. Use your leave entitlement creatively and you could take more Mondays off than any other day of the week, maybe even 28 Mondays off if you were feeling perverse, reducing the number to less than 20. Way to go!

xv) When you were a child, Mondays weren't so bad

Before you started school, you probably had no concept of Mondays being the start of a working week. That's at least 200 Mondays you got through in your early years with no ill effects. Academic years are relatively short, too. A typical three-term year probably only includes 36-or-so Mondays, and fewer than that if your school arranged staff training days for Mondays, and fewer than that if you were educated privately. Throw in the long breaks that universities enjoy, and you may have endured only 600 'working' Mondays by the age of 20.

xvi) After you retire, Mondays are just another day

Once going to work becomes a thing of the past, Mondays lose their downbeat image. Sometimes they're better than weekends because all the working people have disappeared and you can pootle round the shops in peace. Your retirement date may be a long way off, and getting further away rather than closer, but there should come a time when Mondays aren't so blue. Assuming a retirement age of 67, followed by an average lifespan, that's 1000 post-retirement Mondays which'll be no worse than any other day of the week.

xvii) The average lifetime contains around 2600 'working' Mondays

I've calculated this as follows. First, 600 'working' Mondays up to the age of 20 (see above). Then 43 'working' Mondays every year until the age of 67 (see above). And then no 'working' Mondays at all after that (see above), making a total of about 2600. You might be thinking "ah, but I expect to work past the age of 67", which'd nudge the number up. But equally I haven't included any sick days in my calculations (and sick days are usually Mondays), which'd nudge the total down. And 2600 Mondays out of a lifetime's total of 4000, well, that's only two-thirds of them. Perhaps Monday mornings aren't sounding quite so terrible after all.

xviii) Yes, I know, you're not average

I can't make these figures be all about you, sorry. You might work part-time, second half of the week only. You might be long-term disabled, and every day is a struggle. You might be out of work, and the idea of a 'working' Monday might sound like bliss. You might do shift work, or zero-hours contracting, with an ever-changing pattern of employment which bears no relation whatsoever to anything I've been describing above. Monday gloom is meaningless when your life doesn't fit the age-old seven-day pattern.

xix) If we didn't have Mondays, then Tuesdays would be just as bad

The working week has to start somewhere. It starts today, thanks to some anonymous Babylonian who fired the starting pistol a multiple of seven days ago.

xx) There'll be another Monday along in a week's time

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