University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine
Winter 2011

New Year’s Revolution

A proposed new calendar would give February an extra week and start every month on a Monday.

February with 35 days? New Year’s day this year is on a Saturday. In 2011, it falls on a Sunday. Every year, the dates of many important events – and some religious holidays – don’t change, but the day of the week they land on does. A new calendar devised by Irv Bromberg, a professor in U of T’s Faculty of Medicine, does away with this: it ensures that the same date always falls on the same day of the week. In Bromberg’s calendar, New Year’s Day is always on a Monday and Valentine’s Day is always a Sunday. Every month of every year starts on a Monday.

Bromberg proposes more significant changes, too. All months in his calendar – which he has dubbed Symmetry454 – have either four or five weeks of seven days. January and March, for example, slim down to 28 days, while February bulks up to 35. Each quarter follows the same pattern: a four-week month, followed by a five-week month and then another four-week month.

In total, a Symmetry454 year has only 364 days. Bromberg compensates by giving every sixth or fifth year (depending on an arithmetic rule), a whole extra week at the end of December.

Bromberg – who, as a hobby, has refined or created several calendars – says businesses would benefit from Symmetry454 because each quarter has exactly 91 days (except the last quarter in a leap year), and the same number of weekdays and weekends. Businesses might also like that the midpoint of the quarter always falls on the same day. Schools and universities wouldn’t have to create a new academic schedule each year. Monthly fees such as rents might have to be pro-rated according to the month, though.

In the much longer term, Bromberg says his calendar would require fewer adjustments than the Gregorian calendar, which will begin to seriously drift from true solar time around the year 6000.

Although Bromberg does not expect the world to adopt the Symmetry454 calendar in his lifetime, he does think it could catch on among computer enthusiasts. A programmer in Brazil has already found a way to incorporate it into the Linux operating system, he says.

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