I published a short article about an old poem called The Days of the Month. As the name suggests, the purpose of the poem, which I had found re-printed in a 1904 volume of children’s poems, is to help people remember which months have 30 days and which months have 31 days (as well as dealing with the whole matter of February). Shortly after I published the article, New Leaf Journal reader Merle Hall sent me an email (see our contact page) brought the “knuckle method” for remembering the days of the month to my attention. While I had never heard of it before, a cursory online search reveals that there are many knuckle method guides, including in YouTube video form. It appears that I am late to the party party. Having published The Days of the Month poem, I thought that it would be worth covering this mnemonic trick for remembering how many days are in each month as well.
I preface my artistic description of the knuckle method by noting that I had to look it up. After studying a number of sources, I relied primarily on this write-up of the knuckle method from The Teacher’s Corner and a short post on Mama Lisa’s World. Both of these posts present the poem I reprinted in September before the knuckle method, and the author of the Mama Lisa’s World article noted that she, like me, had learned about the knuckle method only after readers responded to her having re-printed the same poem.
(So much for my ingenuity.)
The Teacher’s Corner article described the knuckle method in something resembling poetic form:
Make a fist.The Teacher’s Corner
If the month is on a knuckle, it has 31 days. Otherwise it has 30 or less days.
Starting with the 1st knuckle as January,
The space between knuckles as February,
2nd Knuckle is March… etc.
Once you get to the fourth knuckle, July, start over at the first knuckle for August.
I had to read this a few times to follow. Fortunately, both The Teacher’s Corner and Mama Lisa’s World provided diagrams. However, I cannot steal their diagrams. Instead, I present my own diagrams using an Openclipart image that is entirely suited for the task at hand (pun intended).
(That my image of choice is a rotated thumbs down image should not be viewed as a commentary on my always-incredible computer art.)
Make a fist. Start from a knuckle. Go through the months alternating between knuckles and gaps between knuckles. The knuckle months have 31 days while the non-knuckle months, with the exception of February, have 30 days. In the case of February, one will just have to remember that the month has 28 days whenever the year is not divisible by 4.
The “Repeat” Knuckle Method
I discovered that there is another way to use the knuckle method from a comment by Ms. Denise Miras on the Mama Lisa’s World blog post. Let us see what Ms. Miras had to say:
Brasil also, but it’s one hand and you repeat the knuckle, July/August and return…Denise Miras on Mana Lisa’s World
Fortunately, I can depict this because I am a professional (TM) computer graphics artist.
For this method, simply tap your knuckles/hands in the numerical order provided. I suppose that it is a bit more efficient than starting over, but whether that is preferable is up to you.
Save for its weakness regarding February, the knuckle method is a good way to remember which months have 30 days and which have 31. It also seems like a fun method to teach kids. I think that the poem I found is a bit better if one can memorize it, not least because it accounts for February, but which method is most helpful will depend on the person.
Although I occasionally draw a blank on whether the current month has 30 or 31 days, I have it down well enough that I do not need to resort to too many tricks. However, it is fitting that I published this knuckle method post in November, for November may be the month that feels like it should have 31 days, but only has 30.