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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Days of the Week

Even though I have not yet been to the U.S. to pick up American calendars for 2010, I have accumulated several, by gift, newspaper freebies, and purchase. In addition to normal variations in calendar styles (one-page vs. monthly vs. daily agendas; pictures vs. plain text; space for writing vs. just-the-date reminder, etc.) there are a couple stylistic variations between the calendars I am used to from the U.S. and those I find in Spain.

The biggest difference is that the week in Spain, and in most of Europe, starts on Monday. So the weekly and monthly view of a calendar shows days as Monday, then Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and finally--at the far right--Sunday. I always have to look twice and check myself when verifying which day a date falls on, to make sure I am not automatically assuming a Su-M-T-W-Th-F-Sa orientation. Of course, I should look at the top grid letters, and remember that when it starts L (for lunes, Monday) and proceeds through M-X-J-V-S and concludes with D for domingo (Sunday), I'm on the Spanish calendar. Fortunately, most Spanish calendars use red ink to indicate Sunday and holidays, so all that red ink on the right side of the calendar page is another clue.

My primary calendar is a plain-looking, black book calendar, which I use as a daily agenda of what I am supposed to do, and a journal of what I actually did. I've bought one of these for only two or three euros every year that I have been in Spain. If I remember, I can look ahead to see when the holidays are coming, as each day shows the saint associated with it. Last year's had month names in five languages, including English, but this year's only has the four official Spanish languages. I had a hard time finding a Spanish version of this agenda this year--I ran into a lot of English-only editions, but if I were to buy a British version, how would I be able to find out about the Spanish holidays?

My primary picture wall calendar this year is the H.C. Andersen kalendar 2010 from Denmark, each month showing a colored reproduction of a painting by Svend Otto S. from various of Andersen's fairly tales. The Danish week also begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, and this particular calendar has another special feature that I had to look closely to observe. Each Monday there is a number showing which week of the year it is. This is very useful, as it is quite common for Danes to tell you they will be on holiday in week 19, for example, or that their summer house is available for rental from week 24 to week 25.

I have an assortment of one-page, full-year calendars--essentially advertising pieces for local newspapers or companies--that I have placed throughout the house for checking dates. My keyboard calendar is from a multilingual company that produces signage "made to measure." Its weeks begin on Monday but the days are labeled in Spanish (LMMJVSD), although the month names are only in English. The first half of the year is on one side, with a centimeter rule, and the second half is on the other side, with an inch rule.

The Costa Blanca News gave us a calendar that is a mash-up between Spanish and English. Each month is a vertical row of days, and though days and months from this British newspaper are in English only, Spanish  and British flag icons indicate holidays important to people of both countries, and holiday names are in the language of the holiday. Now I am wondering why England has three Boxing Days in 2010...maybe because Christmas falls on a Saturday?

An alliance of Scandinavian businesses in Alicante gave us a handy calendar in Spanish (the calendar is way too small to get all the Scandinavian languages on it) and this wall calendar also has numbered weeks. I find it disturbing, however. According to this calendar, we are now (on January 6) in week 2, whereas my Danish calendar shows this date in week 1. Of course, it all depends on whether the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of January started out as the first week of 2010 or finished up as the last week of 2009.

Back to my Spanish agenda, where I notice that there are very small and light letters indicating the week number. According to this one, week 1 of 2010 started on Monday, January 4. January 1, 2, and 3 comprised the last week of 2009--week 53.

There is an amusing, if little-known, short story by Hans Christian Andersen, about the Days of the Week. You can read an English translation here.