29 June 2007

when's the Fourth of July weekend this year?

Phillyist asks:

We've always wondered what the protocol is for celebrating a holiday weekend if the actual holiday falls squarely in the middle of the week. Should we be celebrating Independence Day this weekend? Or next weekend? Or should we just celebrate both weekends and spend two weekends in a row gorging ourselves on various grilled meats and icy-cold Coronas and margaritas? (This Phillyist votes the latter.)

and Jacqueline Urgo of the Philadelphia Inquirer
asks the same question:

Surely there'll be a Fourth of July weekend at the Jersey Shore. But when?
Because the Fourth falls on Wednesday this year, schedule shilly-shallying has driven the Shore into a near panic.
Will bars and restaurants need those extra ice cubes this week or next week? What about more linens for the tables? More food for the hungry?

In general, I imagine people are taking off more time for the Fourth on average this year. My guess is that the most common behavior among people taking vacations is as follows, depending on the day of the week on which the 4th falls:

  • Thursday: people take off Thursday the 4th through Sunday the 7th.

  • Friday: people take off Friday the 4th through Sunday the 6th

  • Saturday: people take off Friday the 3rd through Sunday the 5th

  • Sunday: people take off Saturday the 3rd through Monday the 5th

  • Monday: people take off Saturday the 2nd through Monday the 4th

  • Tuesday: people take off Saturay the 1st through Tuesday the 4th

But this year, do you take off from Saturday, June 30 through the 4th? Or from the 4th through Sunday, July 8? Or just throw up your hands and take the whole week? (One person is quoted in the Inquirer article as saying that people will take the weekend after, not the weekend before, because the weekend before falls partially in June. He might be on to something, although I'm not totally sure how much month boundaries affect people.)
But the Inquirer article makes it sound like this never happens. In fact, it happens one year in seven. You'd think that the people who have been in business for a while could go back and see what happened in 2001. Or 1996. Or 1990. Or 1984. Or... you get the idea. In fact, it happens in 58 years out of every 400, very nearly one in seven. (The link is to the Wikipedia article on "Dominical letter", which is the Catholic Church's system for encoding how the days of the week fall in a given year with a single letter; in every year with dominical letter G or AG, the Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday. Looking at the table there makes it easy to count.
A few random facts about the Gregorian calendar:

I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

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