The Friday That Never Was

Some years ago, Samoa skipped Friday. In 2011, Samoans lived through Thursday, December 29 (just like everyone else in the world), but then leapfrogged right to Saturday, December 31. That missing Friday just doesn’t exist on the Samoan record books.

For most of Samoa’s history, the country sat to the east of the International Date Line. But in 2011, they hopped over to the west side to improve trade relations with their neighbours. Here’s a Google map of the updated–and screwy–International Date Line. Looks like a flexed bicep.

Now Samoa is the first country in the world (along with parts of Kiribati) to ring in the new year. This, it seems, is a tourist draw. Apparently, exuberantly festive types like to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Samoa, then skip over to American Samoa on the other side of the International Date Line so that they can ring in the new year again 24 hours later. Fun! Just kidding, it sounds horrible. Double New Year’s Eves? Twice the opportunity to reflect on all those goals you failed to achieve. But to each their own.

It’s neat how some days are just absent from history. The switch to the Gregorian calendar in 1582 excised ten full days from the annals –at least for the countries that adopted it. A bunch of Protestant countries held out, unwilling to be bullied around by Pope Gregory’s papal bull. Of course when they finally did fall in line centuries later, they had to do away with more than ten days. And the mighty Russians held out until after the October Revolution (which was actually a November Revolution), and lost 13 days. More missing Fridays.

So in the 19th century, Russia and most of Europe were operating on different calendars. Wikipedia reports that this disparity might have caused some hiccups that, you know, changed the course of history. Like, imagine this: the reason the Austrians and Russians couldn’t get their shit together to defeat Napoleon at Austerlitz was because they mixed up the dates! It’s like a Monty Python sketch! This story is likely apocryphal, but … what if it isn’t? Imagine being the guy that has to explain that fuckup.