In many ways, Americans at first seem perfectly normal and rational and reasonable. For example they use Arabic numerals for almost everything, like most normal countries do.
the US population is 319,916,609
or the national debt is $18,084,817,920,826
or the 45th President of the United States might be...
"seriously interested in running"
But one Sunday in January they go crazy and start using Roman numerals to refer to how many times the Cup Final of the sport they call football has been played. Today, I believe that a team from Foxboro in Massachusetts and a team from Seattle in Washington are playing a game in Glendale Arizona. And it is Cup Final number XLIX.
Quick. Did you read that as "49" as fast as you could read it if it actually said "49"? If you say yes, you are American.
Oh sorry. They don't call it the Cup Final either. They call it the Super Bowl. Apparently it is named after the Wham-O Super Ball. (You can google it if you don't believe me.)
It put the Super in Super Bowl
But that doesn't explain why it's also a bowl.
Anyway, today's game is Super Bowl XLIX.
You see, the first Super Bowl was played in MCMLXVII and this year is MMXV so all you need to do is work out MMXV - MCMLXVII + I to know that today is Super Bowl XLIX.
Can you believe that the Romans built all those coliseums and aqueducts and stuff like that which are still standing MM years later, when they had to do all the arithmetic with numbers like MCMLXVII?
An aqueduct built with Roman arithmetic
I don't even know how they could work out the wages of the average aqueduct stonemason if they had to do sums like XLVII hours times XXIV denarii. That's no way to run a wages department
Anyway, American football fans can do the math. Good for them.
That's why this post is Super Post MMMXII. I have now published MMMXII posts in this blog since I started it in MMV.
Did you see that I achieved a grand total of LXXI days on the water last year? It's XXIX days short of C and not as many as the XCIV I achieved in MMVIII but, hey, I'm not getting any younger. I'm LXVI you know.
So why do Americans use Roman numerals to number their Super Bowls? They didn't always. The first four Super Bowls were just numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4.
But then some bright spark decided that the fifth one should be called Super Bowl V. Apparently it was supposed to make the event sound more "important."
I guess it worked. XLIV years later, it seems like Super Bowl Sunday is the most important day of the year for many Americans, rivaled only by Flag Day and Columbus Day. And American businesses pay a gazillion dollars for XXX seconds of TV ad time during the (many and frequent) commercial breaks in the Super Bowl. (Apparently the Romans didn't have a letter for a gazillion.)
So I hope all of my American friends have a wonderful time on Super Bowl Sunday whichever team they support.
But guess what. Next year's Super Bowl is not going to be Super Bowl L. It's going to be Super Bowl 50.
America is a strange place. Even after living here for over XXV years there are still lots of things I don't understand.