Old myth falsely claims that combination of days and weeks in February 2022 occurs once a lifetime

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Social media users are recycling an old myth about the month of February, claiming it is extremely rare – “every 823 years” – to see each day of the week appear exactly four times on the calendar, as it does in 2022. However, the claim is false: there is nothing special about February this year; every day of the week appears four times – just as it does in all non-leap years.

The claim has circulated in dozens of online posts in Africa, suggesting that the combination of days in February 2022 was a divine occurrence and witnessed only once in a lifetime, or in some cases, every 823 years.

“This coming February has only 4 Sundays,4 Mondays,4 Tuesdays,4 Wednesdays,4 Thursdays,4 Fridays, & 4 Saturdays,” reads a Facebook post, shared more than 500 times since January 26, 2022. 

It adds: “This is called MIRACLEIN and it happens every after 823 Years (sic).”

Screenshot taken on February 14, 2022, showing the false Facebook post

Dozens of posts like it have appeared online in African countries and beyond, as seen in these Spanish, Arabic and Portuguese posts debunked by AFP Fact Check (here, here and here).

However, this purportedly rare occurrence is anything but uncommon.

One of the earliest versions of the same claim was published on Facebook here in 2015, according to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle.

Even before then, other variations of the claim have circulated. A search for “once every 823 years” revealed the claim is a mixture of several myths related to the calendar. 

For instance, this Facebook post claims that the fact that Friday, Saturday and Sunday occurred five times in August 2014 was an oddity, when in fact it happened in 1997, 2003, and 2008, to mention a few.

Screenshot taken on February 14, 2022, showing the false Facebook post

Likewise, there is nothing extraordinary about the repetition of the days in February 2022, the only exception being leap years. 

A rare phenomenon? 

In leap years, the month of February has 29 days, one more than usual. 

Leap years are caused by the revolution of the Earth around the Sun, which naturally takes 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds. The extra hours after 365 days are compensated with an additional day in February every four years. 

For instance, the last leap year was 2020 when February had 29 days. Five of those days were Saturdays while other days of the week occurred just four times each. 

Screenshot taken on February 15, 2022, showing the February 2020 leap-year calendar

However, apart from leap years, the days of the week in February all occur four times each, a pattern that repeats itself much more frequently than “once in a lifetime” or “every 823 years”.

Comparison of February calendars over a period of four years
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