This article appeared in the December 03, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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A man, a plan, a canal ... happy palindrome month!

Sabrina Hentschel/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa/Newscom
The date 12/02/2021 can be seen on a laptop screen in this photo illustration. Outside the U.S., this showed up on the second Friday in February, but in the U.S. this palindrome – reading the same even when reversed – occurred on Dec. 2, 2021.

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by symmetry in words and numbers. And on Wednesday, 12/1/21, it hit me: We had entered a month of palindromes, 11 out of 31 dates that read the same backward and forward, at least in the American “month/day/year” way of doing things. 

I noted this on Facebook, and launched a frenzy of palindromania – friends sharing their favorite words, phrases, and sentences that read the same in both directions: “Tuna Nut,” the name of a friend’s boat. “TacoCat,” a card game, rock band, and now crypto token. “Able was I ere I saw Elba,” as Napoleon allegedly said upon his exile. 

The best-known example of all time is “A man, a plan, a canal: Panama” according to the Palindrome Hall of Fame. But when my friend Eric Troseth offered this – “Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?” – I stopped in my tracks. The potential for deep meaning is vast.

Indeed, the Hall of Fame includes this marvelous example from the ancient Greek, transliterated: “Nipson anomemata me monan opsin,” meaning “Wash the sins, not only the face.”

Love of palindromes is a rabbit hole down which one can vanish forever – or at least as a break from the headlines. This palindrome-filled video by “Weird Al” Yankovic guarantees a laugh.

But before I go, I must point out something especially remarkable about yesterday’s date: 12/02/2021. Ignore the slashes and write the numbers in digital script, and you get the rarest of palindromes, an ambigram: Left, right, upside down, it reads the same. Wow.

This article appeared in the December 03, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 12/03 edition
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