Thirty days hath September

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Thirty days hath September is a traditional English mnemonic rhyme, of which many variants are commonly used in English-speaking countries to remember the lengths of the months in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Here is one version of the rhyme attributed to Mother Goose:

Thirty days have September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have 31,
Except February alone,
And that has 28 days clear,
And 29 in a leap year.
Thirty days have September,
April, June, and November
All the rest have 31,
Except for February.

Other sources list the Mother Goose version differently:

Thirty days have September,
April, June, and November;
February has 28 alone,
All the rest have 31;
Except leap year, that's the time,
When February's days are 29.[1]

History[edit]

Thirty days has November,
April, June, and September.
Of twenty-eight is but one,
And all the rest are thirty-one.
Of course, leap year comes and stays
Every four years—got it right—
And twenty-eight is but twenty-nine.[original research?]

Later versions differ from the medieval version in that September and November are often reversed, as in the Mother Goose variants above. As with any text that is still primarily transmitted orally, many versions exist. The first two lines are usually similar, with variations in the final lines relating to February. For instance, here is an unusual version that is longer and more rhythmic, with paired rhyming lines:[2]

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
no exceptions, but save one:
twenty-eight hath February,
but from this we still must vary
each four years when we do find
a small leap to twenty-nine.

A shorter version that rhymes perfectly is from an unknown source and date:

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November;
Thirty-one the others date,
Except in February, twenty-eight;
But in leap year we assign
February, twenty-nine.

Modern variants[edit]

It is common to encounter derivative or shorter variants of the two Mother Goose versions above that have an imperfect or irregular rhyme pattern and rhythm:

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November;
all the rest have thirty one
February, only, twenty-eight;
leap years we assign
February, gets twenty-nine.
Thirty days has September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Except—you know which one.
Thirty days has September
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone
To which we twenty-eight assign,
'Til leap year gives us twenty-nine.
Thirty days has September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone
Which has eight and one score
And every fourth year one more.
Thirty days has September
April, June, and November.
All the rest have Thirty-One—
Well, all the rest but one.
February only has twenty-eight,
And that's just fine,
Except for every fourth year,
When February has twenty-nine.
Thirty days has September,
April, June and November;
All the rest have thirty-one,
Except for February which has twenty-eight,
Except in a leap year when it has twenty-nine!
Thirty days has September,
April, June, and November;
Once short February's done,
All the rest have thirty-one.
Thirty days has September
April, June, and November.
Of twenty-eight there is but one,
And all the rest have thirty-one.
Thirty days has September,
April, June, and November;
All the rest have thirty-one,
Except February. It has twenty-eight, we find,
Unless it's leap year: Then it has twenty-nine.
Thirty days has September,
April, June and November,
All the rest have thirty-one
Except for February alone, my dear
Which has twenty-eight, and twenty-nine in each leap year.
Thirty days has September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Except for February: It is done
At twenty-eight, but leap one more
When the year divides by four.


Thirty days have September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
save February which, alone,
has twenty-eight and one day more
we add to it one year in four.

One modern version forgoes describing February's exception to keep the rhythm and rhyme constant:

Thirty days have September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Except for February—and that's no fun!

Another modern version also provides a reminder of St. Valentine's Day:

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November
All the rest have thirty-one,
Except the month of Valentine
Which, in leap year, has twenty-nine.

More elaborate variations, such as these, can be sung to melodies:

Thirty days has September,
April, June, and November,
All the rest have thirty-one,
except for February alone,
which has twenty-eight rain or shine,
but on leap year, twenty-nine.
Thirty days has September,
April, June, and November,
All the rest have thirty-one,
except for February alone oh no,
which has three less than the others rain or shine,
but on leap years, twenty-nine.
Thirty days has September,
April, June, and November;
All the rest have thirty-one,
except for February alone,
which has four and twenty-four,
'til leap year gives it one day more.
Thirty days has September,
April, June, and November;
All the rest have thirty-one,
except for quite contrary, February,
which has twenty-eight most of the time,
but in leap year twenty-nine.
Thirty days has September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
save for February alone.
And then in leap year that's the time
that February has twenty-nine.
Thirty days has September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
February has twenty-eight alone.
Leap year coming one in four,
February has one day more.


A humorous couplet sacrifices mnemonic utility for rhyme and brevity:

Thirty days hath September,
All the rest I can't remember.

This is one Swedish version:

Trettio' dagar har september,
April, juni och november.
Februari tju'åtta alén,
Alla de övriga trettioen.[original research?]

Translated to English:

Thirty days have September,
April, June and November.
February twentyeight alén,
All the others, thirty-one.[3][4]

Knuckles[edit]

The knuckle mnemonic.

The French and Romanians typically use a mnemonic by counting on the knuckles of one's hand to remember the numbers of days of the months.[5] Count knuckles as 31 days, depressions between knuckles as 30 (or 28/29) days. Start with the index finger knuckle as January, and count one finger at a time towards the little finger knuckle (July), saying the months as you go. Then jump back to the index finger knuckle (now August) and continue for the remaining months.

One variant of this approach differs after reaching the little finger knuckle (July): instead of wrapping around back to the index finger, some people reverse direction and continue from the little finger knuckle (counting it for both July and August) and ending on the middle finger knuckle. Still others use two hands (as shown in the diagram, right): starting with the little finger knuckle of the left hand proceed to the left index finger knuckle, then (swapping hands) jump to the right fist's index finger knuckle for August, finishing on the knuckle of the right ring finger (December).

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.fidella.com/trmg/TRMG1.html
  2. ^ This is a 19th-century variant of the rhyme from the American South.
  3. ^ "Google Translate". Google. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Full Text Translator, Language Translation". Dictionary.com. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ Lardner, Dionysius (1855). The Museum of Science and Art, Volumes 5-6 (Encyclopedias and dictionaries). Walton and Maberly. p. 152. "When we close the hand there are four projecting knuckles of the four fingers, with depressions between them. If we give the knuckles and intermediate depressions the names of the successive months, recommencing from the first knuckle, after having once gone over them, we shall find that the months of thirty-one days are those which fall upon the knuckles."