In Greek ‘palin dromo’ means “running back again”so putting it simply, a palindrome is a word/phrase/sentence that reads the same when read forward or backward e.g. kayak, or rotor.

The date 0202 2020 is therefore a palindromic date.

Now, here is the puzzle for you…

  1. Write down the date on a piece of paper
  2. Now describe in the simplest manner WITHOUT WORDS (i.e. silently) to someone why this is an ‘interesting’ date’

Have a think about how you will ‘show someone’.

When you are ready, keep on reading…

Ok, so you know a palindrome reads forwards and backwards the same – you were encouraged above to think in this manner too by that being the explanation. There is, however, another way to approach this puzzle when it comes to palindromic dates and that is the following…

Use a ‘digital font’ and turn the paper upside down i.e. 180 degrees.

(If you don’t use a digital font, ‘it won’t work’.)

If you compare people’s response between a) explaining it in a forwards/backwards manner, and b) turning the paper, you will probably find a significant shift with the latter.

Why does this matter? The date has no significance except for that which we give it – and humans like things to have meanings. With another such date on the horizon: 22 02 20 22 it means that instead of a one off phenomena, we can use the second date as another opportunity to play with an idea that it is the ‘start of something’.

Note: if you’re anything like me you will convince yourself at least a few times that either or both of the dates above are not palindromes and that something is ‘wrong’ with them, but if you do the ‘180 degree turn test’ you will see them read the same either way.