Is it actually possible to memorise the calendar? Well, you can give the impression you’ve done just that by learning to tell what day of the week is correct for any given date. That’s a pretty tall order, and a pretty extraordinary thing to be able to do, but you don’t have to actually memorise the calendar to achieve it.
All you have to do is master what is essentially a clever little calculation that involves a bit of mental arithmetic. Nothing drastic involved really, and you’ll never have to go much higher than seven in your calculations, since there’s only seven days in a week!
Of course, none of this would be necessary if we had a more regular calendar. If, for example, every month consisted of 28 days (four weeks), then every month could start on the same day, in a nice, regular fashion.
Let’s say the 1st of the month was a Monday, then you’d know, and soon get used to the fact, that every 8th, 15th, and 22nd was also a Monday. Same for every other day of the week – each date would be inextricably linked to a particular day. And that would apply to every single month!
We’d all be used to them, and there’d be no reason to learn to put the day to any date, because we’d all know instantly what day any date fell on. But the calendar’s not like that. For a start, if every month had only 28 days, a year would only be 336 days long – a shortfall of 29 days! Okay, so I guess we could add another month, but that would still leave a day spare to knock out our tidy little calculations. And then there’s leap years – another extra day to cope with every fourth year. What would we do with that? Our calculations would soon be out of whack again!
The fact is, we’re stuck with the calendar we’ve got, so we have to learn to work with it. On the positive side, this gives us a really enticing little problem to deal with. Finding out how to put the correct day of the week to any given date becomes an interesting memory adventure. Incidentally, if you want to create your own calendars, for whatever reason, visit timeanddate.com, which is a very comprehensive site dealing with all kinds of things calendar-related.
Chances are you’ve seen gifted and talented people on television displaying this talent. They meet someone for the first time, ask for their birthdate, and tell them immediately what day of the week they were born on, what their star sign is … and what day their birthday will fall on this year.
It’s stunning to watch, and amazing to think that a human has access to this kind of information almost instantly. I say ‘has access to’ because it seems, in some cases at least, that the savant in question isn’t really working anything out at all, at least not consciously. He (or she) ‘just knows’.
Amongst well known actors born on the leap day are: Joss Ackland, Dennis Farina and Alex Rocco. Tony Robbins, the self-help guru, was another leap day baby. From the world of music, we also have Jimmy Dorsey and Dinah Shore. And serial killers Aileen Wuornos and Richard Ramirez also share this birthday (Ramirez sometimes listed as born on the 28th).
Just how the brain works these things out, or somehow gains access to this information, is still a mystery, really. I think it’s true to say that the human brain is far more complex and has far greater capabilities that we’re even aware of. As various people are quoted as saying, “If our brains were simple enough for us to understand them, we’d be so simple that we couldn’t”.
It is possible to memorise the calendar!
So let’s accept that the calendar is quirky and presents us with an interesting challenge, and let’s accept that some people can do this sort of thing without even thinking about it. And let’s leave that to one side, shall we (before it gets really annoying!). And let’s just get on with dealing with this challenge … if we can find a way …
Just how do we put the correct day of the week to any given date?