Mother very thoughtfully made a jam sandwich under no protest.
That, Gentle Reader, is a now-outdated mnemonic for the order of the planets going outwards from the sun. (The T is for Terra, an alternative name for the Earth.) The suggestions for non-Plutonian versions given on The Fount Of All Knowledge™ seem lacking to me in that, unlike the above, they omit the asteroid belt; but I must admit I do quite like "Mary's 'virgin' explanation made Joseph suspect upstairs neighbour."
The thing with mnemonics, though, is that they need to be, well, memorable. The one I opened with, for instance, was made even more so for me by dint of incongruousness. The original mentioned jelly, not jam; and this at a time before I knew that jelly in US English is not a gelatin dessert (Jell-O in US English, I believe) usually moulded into the shape of a deformed, half-melted rabbit. The need for memorability is probably why, in an effort to lodge the nonsense-word "sohcahtoa" (for the formulae for sine, cosine and tangent) into our infant brains, my maths teacher took time to regale us with stories of a completely non-existent ancient Celtic leader who went by that name. Tales which, I can easily imagine, may have led to Strong Words in the staff room between him and the poor history teacher who then had to disabuse us of said fake history. Ho-hum.
Which brings me to what I find to be the least-memorable of all the commonly-used mnemonics. And it's not just me. I've run across many other people who didn't find it easy to remember.
Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November.
There are three months ending in "ember" and four ending in "ber." Any of 'em will fit the rhyme. And any combination of one- and two-syllable names will fit the middle part of the line. In fact, it's not really a mnemonic at all. It's a learn-by-rote list which is presented as a mnemonic; which style of presentation gives the false impression that it doesn't need to be learned by rote.
So anyway, I've used a method for most of my life, for quickly reminding myself of the number of days in a month, and oddly enough no one I mention it to seems to have ever encountered it; not even those who, like myself, never managed to get the commonly used rhyme down pat. It uses the four finger-knuckles of one hand and the spaces between them. I always, for some reason, begin with the index finger and work outwards, but it'll work just as well from the little finger inwards.
The index finger knuckle is January. The space between the index and middle finger knuckles is February. The middle finger knuckle is March. The next space is April. And so on until we reach July on the little finger knuckle. Then we return to the first knuckle, and that's August. Continue as before until we reach December on the ring finger knuckle.
If a month falls on a knuckle it has thirty-one days. If it falls between knuckles it has thirty, except, of course, for February.
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