For nearly five years, I’ve darkened these pages with events that occurred on “this day in history.” Some things I’ve written have been good, some less so. But today, as 2012 runs out, we’re going to talk about something different. We’re going to talk, for just a minute, about an event that didn’t happen, because it was a day that didn’t happen.
December 31, 1994 may have been a special day for you. For me, it’s too long ago to remember. Maybe I did something fun that New Year’s Eve, but likely not. I probably just spent it in my apartment, reading a book or playing a game on the computer. I might have watched New York City’s Big Apple fall on TV…maybe not. But for some people in the central Pacific, 1994′s final day wasn’t fun, or boring, or deadly, or anything. For them, December 31st didn’t even occur.
That’s right, for the people living in the Line Islands and Phoenix Islands, 12/31/1994 was blacked out from the calendar. It sounds really strange until you discover that these two island groups were part of the nation of Kiribati. The main islands of Kiribati are the Gilberts, which we well remember from our discussion of the Battle of Tarawa. All of the islands of Kiribati spans more than a million square miles of Pacific Ocean, with only the Gilberts situated on the west side of the International Date Line.
As you might imagine, having parts of the country on opposite sides of the Date Line made conducting business somewhat difficult, since there were only four common weekdays. So President Teburoro Tito made the decision to move the Date Line such that all of Kiribati lived and worked under the same set of days. So when the Gilberts celebrated New Year’s Day on 1995, the Line Islands and Phoenix Islands were carried along, skipping December 31st.
There you go. Have a happy, and very safe, New Year!