Perhaps palindromes don’t need promotion.

After all, the symmetry of numbers, words and phrases that are the same written backward as they are forward — such as “Madam, I’m Adam” — is pretty cool and interesting, at least to some people.

But Aziz Inan, a palindrome-obsessed professor of electrical engineering at the University of Portland, isn’t leaving anything to chance. Inan made custom T-shirts to commemorate Jan. 2, 2010, the century’s second palindrome date, and in his spare time wrote a book of math puzzles.

With the ongoing streak of nine consecutive palindrome days that began Wednesday, Dec. 1 (12-1-21) and runs through Dec. 9 (12-9-21), he’s got a perfect platform to spread the joy and “magic” of the dates.

“Since I have been advocating for palindrome dates, it is amazing to see sparks in the eyes of the people I interact with,” he said this week. “That’s what I call the magic power.”

Inan was pondering symmetrical numbers about nine or 10 years ago, when he began to think about palindrome dates. He wasn’t the first to contemplate such things, but he believes he may be one of the first to write academically about them. His initial paper on the subject has been published in a magazine for high school math teachers and students.

Sussing out palindromic dates doesn’t require any lengthy calculations, just an understanding of the nature of the calendar and some basic rules, he explained in an earlier interview with The Seattle Times.


In countries like the U.S., where dates are designated as “month, day, year,” palindromic dates in 2020 had to occur on the second day of the month because the first two digits of the year were “20.” Flip them around to form a mirror image of the day, and you always get “02.”

The same rule explains why there were no palindromic dates between the 1400s and 1999.

Flip the first two digits of those centuries and you get 41, 51, 61, 71, 81 and 91. But there are never more than 31 days in a month. For the same reason, there will be no palindrome dates between the 24th and 30th centuries.

This year, however, is something of a rarity, with a total of 22 palindrome dates, 11 in January and 11 in December.

Nine of the ones in December are five-digit palindromes:

  • 12-1-21
  • 12-2-21 (which can also be written as an eight-digit palindrome this way: 12-02-2021)
  • 12-3-21
  • 12-4-21
  • 12-5-21
  • 12-6-21
  • 12-7-21
  • 12-8-21
  • 12-9-21

The other two, on Dec. 11 and Dec. 22, are six-digit palindromes: 12-11-21 and 12-22-21.

Next year, there will be 10 palindrome dates, and, because the year will end in a “2,” all of them will occur in February: Feb. 2 and nine consecutive ones from Feb. 20-28. If next year were a leap year, there would have be 10 consecutive palindrome dates, including 2-29-22, but alas, it is not.


Part of the enchantment of palindromes is their symmetry, Inan said, which is important to humans.

“Most living creatures have different types of symmetry, which is more than just aesthetics and might be part of survival,” he said. In addition, pondering the special properties of such dates is a “great brain exercise and recreational activity for people of any age.”

Inan said he will not be doing much to celebrate this stretch of palindrome dates other than what he usually does to spread the word, and the joy, to his students and anyone else who will listen.

“When someone finds out their birthday is going to be a palindrome,” he said, “they want to share that with other people, who wonder, ‘Is my birthday ever going to be a palindrome?’ “

“It’s like dropping a stone in still water and seeing the circle of ripples spread.”