February 2nd, 2020 is a palindrome.
A palindrome is “a word, phrase or number which is read the same forwards as backwards.”
Words like ‘radar’ or ‘madam’ are palindromes. As are numbers like 4224 or 10001.
Back to today’s date: 02-02-2020.
Beautifully symmetrical! In fact, it’s the first time in over 900 years that a date is written the same way across all continents. The last time was November 11th, 1111.
What does it mean?
Palindromic dates are fairly rare – in fact, February 2nd, 2020 is the only true palindromic date this year.
Some people cheat a little – it depends on whether you write dates the American or British way – so dates like September 10th, 2019 can be considered palindromic if written in a certain way (9-10-2019).
November 2nd, 2011 (written in the American date style, 11-02-2011) appears the same as February 11th, 2001 (written in the British date style, 11-02-2011), and both are palindromes!
The longest palindrome word in the English language is in fact a sound (an onomatopoeia) from James Joyce’s novel Ulysses.
It is “tattarrattat”, the sound of someone rapping on a door!
Some fun palindrome phrases include “don’t nod“, “no lemon, no melon” and “was it a cat I saw?”
You can view more palindrome words and phrases here.
The longest palindrome ‘sentence’ was programmed by a computer and contains 17,826 words.
Although the ‘sentence’ doesn’t make much sense to humans, it is symmetrical, in that around halfway through, all the words from that point on contain the same letters as the previous half, but this time they are read backwards.
For example, the sentence starts “A man, a plan, a cameo, Zena, Bird, …”
After around 17,800 words, it finishes with “… Comdr, Ibanez, OEM, a canal, Panama!”
The main character of Ilnoblet Elmer and the Alien Water Thieves, a science fiction novel for middle-graders, uses palindromes in a way you’d never expect.
What symmetrical things will you be saying or writing, on this Palindrome Day?
Further Research and Image Acknowledgements:
Image of autumn leaves and palindromic dates in 2019: courtesy of https://faculty.up.edu/ainan/
Image of person at church door by Siggy Nowak from pixabay.com
Image of cat on wall by OpenClipart-Vectors from pixabay.com