Musings on America: Dates

Today, with the American dream falling apart at our feet, CoViD knocking on our doors louder and louder, systemic racism exposed finally for all throughout this country (in the north as well as the south) to see, and the climate crisis marching unflinchingly across the globe, I thought you might join me in a bit of a break.

Given most of us are fortunate enough to be able to take a break, it’s time to muse again.

Today, its dates I’m pondering

Oops. No, not the kind we eat.

Not the kind we eat. And not that other kind of date either: 


I’m thinking of the kind of date we make plans around, tell stories of, and organize our life by: dates that show up in our weekly planner.

Is today’s date 8/5/20 or 5/8/20?

First, a brief story. And, now that enough time has gone by, it’s a funny story too.

Back in the late 1980s, we (at the time my typical suburban family of husband, two sons, two dogs, and a station wagon) arranged for an exchange student to spend a year with us.

Sara Paniagua, from Madrid, was the daughter I’d never had and on February 4th, I threw her a surprise 18th birthday party.

Trouble was, her birthday was actually April 2.

You know what went wrong, I’m sure.

I’d seen her birthday on her application form: 2/4/72 — February 4, 1972 — yes?



Pretty much everywhere around the world, today is 05/08/2020.



Though, in some Asian countries, today’s date is 2020/08/05.



The date we use here in the USA, 05/08/2020 is the date in only four other countries: Canada,  Micronesia, Palau, and the Philippines.

Why, I do not know; musing is as far as I got. What can you tell us about this? And what are you musing about these days?  



Beginning August 10, my memoir, At Home on the Kazakh Steppe will be featured as “Book of the Week” on the Facebook group, We Love Memoirs

It’s a fun group that I’ve been a part of since 2013 — before my memoir came out. It’s a closed group, so if you’d like to pop in at some point during the week and say hello, you’ll have to join first.  Here’s the link.

We Love Memoirs Facebook Group

Just pop on over and ask to join.

Tell them Janet sent you.  (This will make no difference  whatsoever, but I do love saying that.)

NEXT WEEK:  another musing in the wings.  Cross your fingers.

18 Responses

  1. Tim Fearnside
    | Reply

    Thanks, Janet. I always appreciate a good musing. Once again, it appears, the US is an outlier, albeit I feel better knowing Canada is with us on this one, for some reason. I suppose they seem imminently more reasonable than us as of late. (And apologies for doing such a poor job of keeping up with the blog as of late)!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Yes, that was encouraging, though I’d venture to guess back whenever it was, that Canada “went along” with the US to be a good neighbor. I’d love to understand the origin of this difference of ours, but there are so many other topics, higher on that list, that beckon. I’m hoping a reader can fill us all in. Why do we do it that way? Maybe you could assign it as a homework task?
      Janet Givens recently posted…Musings on America: DatesMy Profile

  2. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    Congrats on having At Home on the Kazakh Steppe featured next week on We Love Memoirs. I have you to thank for introducing me to this friendly group. Earlier this year I was featured on a Spotlight Sunday. I had to get up in the wee hours because the organizers are mostly in European time zones – small price to pay for finding readers, some of whom even reciprocate with reviews.

    Yes, we are often out of step with the rest of the world. That’s why I sometimes listen to BBC broadcasts for a more global perspective on the news.
    Marian Beaman recently posted…Compensation: A Wedding Anniversary MeditationMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I’m thinking now about how we SAY the date. We say today is August 5th. And that’s how we write it. So, I need one of our European readers to tell us how they SAY today’s date. Do they say 5th of August or do they also say August 5th? Now THERE is a question for our time. 🙂
      Janet Givens recently posted…Musings on America: DatesMy Profile

      • Elizabeth Bolevic
        | Reply

        While working as a civilian on USAF bases I learned the military uses the following – 5 August 2020, and I have followed their lead. It omits the comma.

        • Janet Givens
          | Reply

          Thanks Betty. Since I wrote this post, I’m finding I’m leaning more toward the day-first mode too. Always good to save ink. 🙂

  3. Susan Jackson
    | Reply

    The date business absolutely drives me crazy—I lived in Europe—Germany, England and Turkey for almost 20 yrs so you can imagine my problem-if it is written down I can do it—I know what the military wants but take me outside of that and I would rather just say 30 Nov 19xx and that isn’t even what the military which I served in for 21 yrs and worked for another 21 yr as a civilian want. Go figure!!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Funny you mention going crazy — I found I was getting confused myself just in writing this one. Military tells time differently too, I recall. That’s one I’m still challenged by.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Musings on America: DatesMy Profile

      • Susan Jackson
        | Reply

        I don’t have a problem with the time as a lot of Europe does 24hr time also—anything past 12 just subtract 12 and that is the time

  4. Laurie Buchanan
    | Reply

    Janet — Congratulations on your book feature. Woohoo!

    And I’m with Tim; I feel better knowing that Canada stands alongside us on the date issue. Quite possibly for the same reason. As he said, they seem “imminently more reasonable than us as of late.”

  5. Arlene Smith
    | Reply

    I’m not so sure about Canada . . . I think we are officially either DD/MM/YYYY or YYYY/MM/DD, but because so many of us live close to the US and do business with the US, we’re pretty accommodating.
    If there’s no language barrier, I spell out the words – avoids lots of confusion.

  6. Clive
    | Reply

    Congratulations on your book being featured!

    As for dates, I’m from the UK, where we do it right. Simple logic should mean that as days become months, which then become years, that is the correct order. Anything else is just weird 😂
    Clive recently posted…Tuesday Tunes 20: Lockdown Music – Part 2My Profile

  7. Darlene Foster
    | Reply

    I’ve been messed up a few times with the date issue. I have found in Canada we do both (to please everyone??) Some forms have it one way, some the other. I missed a deadline in Europe because of it once. Why not just spell out the month, then we are all OK.

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