Fake intellect is fun, especially at a social mixer. Whenever you want to make a great impression, matter-of-factly rattle off the history behind the name of each weekday and explain the origin of months. Close with an obtuse segue to the reason four percent of men dress funny. Here’s what you need to know:
Days of the Week. Weekday names evolved from the mythological gods of Ancient Rome. Explain that the Romans were the first to begin their days at midnight, ancient Babylonians began their days at sunrise while ancient Jews chose sunset.
Sunday was named because it was the day sacred to the sun. Monday was named because it was sacred to the moon. Tuesday was named after Tiw, a god of war, because evildoers required protectorates way back then, too.
Wednesday was named after Woden, the leader of the gods, and Thursday after Thor, the god of thunder. Friday honored Frigge, the wife of Woden. Saturday was named after Saturn, the god of crops and harvest.
Logical stuff, eh?
The Story Behind the Months. If your cocktail companion still lingers, awe him or her with the month-bomb.
Our calendar comes from ancient Romans and is based on the sun. But prior to the solar calendar, Romans used a lunar calendar based on the moon. This may be news to your conversation partner.
Romans knew a real month is the time it takes the moon to circle the earth, about 29.5 days. So the Romans gave their months 29 or 30 days. But twelve of these added up to only 354 days, so from time to time they added to the year an 11-day (short) month. Sort of like balancing the books with no concern for an audit.
The Romans switched to the solar calendar during Caesar’s reign, and divided their 11-day month among the other months. The first, third, fifth, seventh, ninth, and eleventh months each became 31 days long. They swiped a day from February so that the 12 months contained exactly 365 days. Not as much went on in February as the other months and the head calendar figure-outerer concluded that no one would miss it.
Some historians think Augustus Caesar then took a day from September and added it to August, and moved one day from November to December. Historians suspect but cannot verify this occurred because AC’s wife wanted more time to shop. Because of this, August and December have 31 days while September and November have 30.
To further impress the crowd surely growing around you, take a few moments to explain the story, name, and sequence behind each month. These also trace back to ancient Rome. Dazzle folks with factoids such as:
Back then March was the first month of the year, while February was the last, and that March was named after Mars, the Roman god of war (note: Remind your audience not to confuse Mars with Tiw, the Babylonian god Tuesday is named for. Different gods, same industry).
April comes from a word meaning “second,” since it was once the second month of the year (after March). May was named after Maia, an earth goddess, and June was named after Juno, the queen of the gods and the goddess of marriage. This is easy to remember because of the recent kid pregnancy movie starring the wonderful Ellen Page.
July, of course, was named after Julius Caesar. Before Caesar’s time, July was called Quintilis (meaning “the fifth month”). Brutus was apparently jealous of his rival’s honor; it’s possible he was against the name change and punctuated his opposition repeatedly and vehemently to that effect the following March 15th.
August was named after Julius’ adopted grand nephew, Augustus Caesar. Prior to that, August was called Sextilis (“the sixth month”). September means seventh month, October means eighth, November means ninth, and December means tenth.
January was named after Janus, the god of beginnings, and endings; February was named after Februa, a Roman festival held in the middle of that month. It was almost named Ground Hoggus, in honor of ground hog day.
At this point, some hovering hotshot will test you. He (it will undoubtedly be a he) will ask why January is now the first month instead of March. Politely explain that everyone knows January became the first month in 153 B.C.
The Big Finish. Since your awe-inspiring, fact-based, shared wisdom has now amazed the circle of admiring listeners, it’s time to radically segue. Switch gears smoothly, like a Ferrari, and mention that humans have better vision than cats, except in dim light, and that cats are colorblind but people are not.
If someone pushes back — and every group setting has a designated pusher-backerer — and blusters that people most certainly are colorblind, DO NOT ARGUE! Kindly explain that nearly all colorblind people can see yellows and blues, but confuse reds with greens, which is why they are exciting to watch at busy intersections. Total black and white colorblindness is very, very rare.; the afflicted seen in shaded gradients.
Close with, “As we all know, it is very rare for a person to be blind to all colors, but since more men than women are colorblind — eight out of 200 versus one out of 200 – it explains why many men dress the way they do. And we must pardon them for that.”
Then smile and ask, “Seen a good movie lately?”
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