Five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays — is this month a marvel?

You may have received a random text pointing out that this month, December 2017, has five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays, and claiming that this occurs only once every 823 years — so forward the message to your friends and await a blessing, or ignore it and beware.

A quick look at a calendar will verify that we're enjoying an abundance of weekend days this month, but is it true that this happens only once every 823 years? That would make the "five Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays" phenomenon as rare as the passing of some obscure comet, or maybe the Angels winning the World Series.

But a Google search reveals that these text messages turn up more frequently — not quite every year, but close.

And for good reason. The calendar shows that any month with 31 days will have five occurrences of three consecutive days every year. For example, October had five Sundays, five Mondays and five Tuesdays. August had five Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Basically, it's because 31 divided by seven leaves a remainder of three — those three days line up under the first three days of the month and become the fifth occurrence of each.

So the event isn't rare at all. We'll have another month of five Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in March 2019, and again in May 2020.

You'll probably get that same text message then, too.

The message usually associates the event with a cash windfall, claiming the Chinese call it "silver pockets full" or "money bags." Snopes dismissed that claim in a 2015 post:

“While there is a ‘money bag’ in Chinese feng shui, it’s an actual cloth bag carried by the Happiness Buddha rather than anything to do with e-mail forwards or the number 5.”

So that hint of moolah is probably just an incentive to pass the text along.

But you have to wonder about the number 823. Where did that come from?

It might have significance to people born on Aug. 23. Math sharpies will notice that 823 is a prime number, which is like being one of the cool kids in class. Also, eight is two to the third power, and that might give the number its mojo.

Maybe not. Another explanation is that the digits in 823 represent the number of letters of the three words in the phrase "thinking of you." This last explanation has the backing of Urban dictionary.

Or maybe 823 is just a random number. In any case, if you forward this little story to your friends ...

marc.olson@latimes.com

Follow @molson21 on Twitter

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