Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What's in a Date?

11-12-13.  11-12-13.  I love it.

Apparently, a lot of other people feel the same way. Today was a day for getting married.  In Chinese culture, or so I've read,  today was especially lucky as the sum of 11, 12 and 13 is 9. Nine is a lucky number, and thousands of couples were supposed to marry today in the United States.  Normally Tuesdays are not a big wedding day.

Our last chance for this kind of sequential day for a while is 12-13-14 - December 13, 2014.  But, we have to keep in mind that not everyone writes dates the way we do in the United States - month, day, year is our style.  It isn't everyone's.

I learned that the hard way when I asked my then-manager, a Canadian citizen living in the United States, to buy me some Canadian food on his next trip home.  At the time, I was in love with ketchup flavored potato chips, easily available in Canada, but not (they are now, but not then) here in upstate New York.  I also asked him to pick up a box of Canadian Special K cereal.  At the time, American Special K factories had changed what the flakes looked and tasted like, but Canadian Special K cereal had the same look and taste that I remembered from my childhood.  My boss, used to my sometimes strange requests (I'll have to relate the BBQ incident one day-or maybe not), obliged.

When I got the box of Special K, I saw, to my horror, that it had expired.  The date was "8/10/06" (August 10, 2006 in U.S. notation) and it was already September.

I felt duty bound to tell my manager, who stared at me for a few seconds.  Then the light bulb went on and he hastened to explain.

I learned that the Canadian 8/10/06 was our 10/8/06 (October 8, 2006) and the box was fine.

But it could have been an international incident. 

So, if I told you today is 11/12/13, how would you read it?


  1. I'd read 11/12/13 as: The eleventh day, the twelth month, the year 2013. Of course!
    I must admit to seeing dates transposed on labels all the time. It's quite confusing.

  2. Yes me too ; the eleventh of December, 2013!


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