What is Irvember?

Created by Dr. Irv Bromberg, University of Toronto, Canada email icon

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Naming of the Leap Week

In the year 2003 definition of the Symmetry Calendar, the Leap Week was designated Semaine de la Révolution, a French phrase which translates as Week of the Revolution or as Revolutionary Week. This was originally intended in the militant revolutionary sense, inspired by the French Revolutionary Calendar, which had 5 or 6 revolutionary holidays at the end of the year that were outside of any month. It was not until 2006 that I realized that this name was also astronomically appropriate, in the sense that the purpose of the leap week is to maintain the calendar's long-term synchronization relative to Earth's revolutions around Sun!

In November 2007, to avoid implying anything revolutionary in the militant/political sense, Professor Paul Socken, a teacher of French at the University of Waterloo, suggested either Semaine Synchronisée or Semaine de la Synchronisation (these also have the appeal of alliteration).

In the meantime, however, for some reason many Americans balked at using a French phrase in the calendar definition, eventually compelling me to rename it to just plain Leap Week, how boring!

One person suggested shifting New Year Day back to March 1st, as it was in Roman times, moving the leap week to follow February, and renaming the leap week to either Revolver or Revoluary!

In spring of 2004, at a family dinner Yoel Berznoger of Toronto, intending to ridicule the Symmetry Calendar project, rhetorically asked "Why don't you call the leap week Irvember?", but the friends and relatives present cheered their support for the idea, and because that name continued to be popular I was convinced to adopt it!

Subsequently local and internet contacts suggested a variety of foreign language versions:

English, Swedish (Svenska), Norwegian (Norsk), Danish (Dansk), Dutch (Nederlands), German (Deutsch), Hungarian (Magyar) Irvember (although spelled the same in all of these languages, and probably many others, pronunciation would vary)
French (Français), Italian (Italiano) Irvembre
Spanish (Español), Filipino Irviembre
Portuguese (Português) Irvembro
Finnish (Suomi) Irvemkuu
Croatian (Hrvatski) Irvni
Turkish (Türkçe) Irvayi
Russian (Русский) Ирвбрь (transliterates as Irvabr or Irwabr)
Greek (Ελληνικά) Ιρβέμβριος (transliterates as Irvemvrios, because there is no "b" sound in the Greek alphabet; the letter β which is called beta in English actually has a "v" sound in modern Greek)
Hebrew (עברית) Irvit
Yiddish (ייִדיש) Irvaizemere

In November 2004, K.E.V. (Karl) Palmen of the United Kingdom convinced me that the leap week shouldn't stand-alone at the end of the year as if it were a "13th mini-month". Arithmetically it was simpler to treat it as the last week of an extended 12th month. This was also the point where I committed to the Symmetry454 design as opposed to the Symmetry010 design, because appending the leap week to December in the former case made the leap December no more exceptional than the 5-week November that preceded it, whereas in the latter case the leap December became a highly exceptional 37-day month.

Nevertheless, there are a growing number of fans of the Symmetry010 calendar, which has the advantage that all of the months are nearly equal in length (30 days per month, except that every 3rd month has 31 days), and most prefer the leap week to stand-alone after December, so that remains the default for the Symmetry010 calendar within our freeware calendrical calculator, Kalendis. Somebody even started an "Irvember" FaceBook group!

This page updated Nov 13, 2011 (Symmetry454) = Nov 11, 2011 (Symmetry010) = Nov 12, 2011 (Gregorian)