12/12/12: On this rare date, the many ways we delve into twelve

It will be another 100 years before we see another Dec. 12, ’12.

Happy 12/12/2012.

The numerically patterned date snuck up on us, with comparatively little fanfare outside of the bogus 12/12 Mayan End of Times meme. (Or was it supposed to be 12/21?)

For the record, no civil ceremonies were scheduled at Hood River County Clerk’s office, though neighboring Multnomah County has more than a dozen intended couples wanting to take advantage of a 12/12/12 nuptial.

On this day of triple-12s, it’s interesting to consider how pervasive the number is and always has been. After all, what’s truly worth celebrating are those mundane aspects of life that don’t get circled on most people’s calendars.

The number is spiritually and culturally significant in many ways: there are the 12 disciples, and for Jewish children 12 is the “age of accountability,” vis-à-vis the keeping of the Commandments. We also have the Zodiac with its 12 symbols, and the 12 Labors of Hercules. Also, the basic color wheel contains 12 possible variations.

For 12’s timeliness, we cannot forget the 12 hours on the clock, 12 months in the year and, of course, 12 minutes in a basketball quarter.

Movies include 12 Angry Men, 12 Monkeys, The Dirty Dozen, High Noon, The 12 Chairs, and 12 O’Clock High.

Another set of 12 is one you might not think of, though it is found right at our fingertips: the 12 “F” functions on the top row of the keyboard.

As ubiquitous as 12 may be, when you think about it in our culture there are basically just three commodities we routinely group by 12; roses, eggs and donuts.

Unless it’s a baker’s dozen, which is really 13, just another symbol of bad luck.

But something that may go in the opposite direction of a baker’s dozen is the Group of 12, the list of global economic powerhouses: Given the state of the world economy, after 2012 we may have to say G-11 or G-10.

Worth noting, too, is that other economic powerhouse, China, uses a 12-year cycle of time-reckoning called Early Branches, termed pinyin, which translates literally to “12 branches.”

The Chinese, like us, are always oriented to sets of 12, but in a larger arc of time.

According to timeanddate.com, 12/12/12 is the last of its kind for 88 years. The next time three numericals in a date repeat will be Jan. 1, 2101, or 01/01/01.

To put it in perspective, someone who is 12 years old on 12/12/12 will be 100 when 01/01/01 comes around

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What kinds of things will happen in your world at 12:12.12 p.m. on 12/12/12? Let us know how you mark the occasion, at hrnews@hoodrivernews.com.

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