The same basic idea that is used for remembering a day and hour works for remembering a month and day. Any date that falls within the first ten days of the first nine months of the year breaks down to a basic Peg Word. The date May 4 would transpose to 54 (lure)—5th month, 4th day. March 8 transposes to movie, August 10 to fuse, January 6 to dish, September 3 to bum, and July 4 to car.

Any day past the 10th, and any month past September, transpose to a three-digit number. In most cases, what you’d do is make up a word to represent that three-digit number. For example, October 8 could transpose to toss off (10th month, 8th day); December 3 to denim; and so on.

But take another look at that last example. Denim transposes to 123, which could represent the 12th month, 3rd day. It could also, however, represent the 1st month, 23rd day.

There are, as usual, ways to solve the problem. The one we use is simply to put a zero in front of any single-digit date. December 3, a single-digit date, is therefore represented by the digits 1203, not 123.

how to memorize Anniversaries and historical dates

Now there can be no confusion; the digits 123 can represent only the 1st month (January), 23rd day. November 7 transposes to 1107, not 117, because 117 represents January 17. All you need do is think up a word or phrase for any three- or four-digit number or date.

You’ll and, if you apply this idea, that the zero isn’t always necessary. You could transpose May 4 to 504 (loser, laser), but since 54 could only represent May 4, you might just as well use lure. You’ll have to decide whether to always use the zero for single-digit dates, or to use that zero only in those instances where it’s needed to avoid confusion.

So. Any date can be made tangible by first breaking it down to two, three, or four digits and then coming up with a word or phrase to represent those digits phonetically. Once you understand that, all you have to do in order to remember a person’s birthday or wedding anniversary is to associate the word or phrase to that person.

One way to do this is to associate the word or phrase to the person physically. For example, picturing your wife as a piano tuner would help you to remember that her birthday is January 24. (This wouldn’t confuse you into thinking that the date is December 4; that would transpose to 1204, and dancer could represent it phonetically.)

Or you can associate the word or phrase to a Substitute Word for the person’s name. To remember that Mr. Gordon’s birthday is April 3, associate ram to garden. Mr. Pukczyva’s birthday is March 2—see a hockey puck shivering as it shines, instead of the moon, in the sky.

Once you’ve visualized the silly picture, whenever you think of the person, you’ll be reminded of the date. (We’re assuming that if you care enough about someone to want to remember the birthday or anniversary, then you do think of that person every so often.)

If you think you’ll have trouble remembering whether it’s a birthday or anniversary date, put something into the picture to represent the correct one. A cake with candles on it would do for a birthday.

Any dates can be remembered by using this basic idea. We’ll discuss historical dates in a moment, but first we’d like to show you how to apply the idea to the signs of the zodiac. So many people are interested in astrology these days that it sometimes seems everyone is asking everyone else what sign they were born under. And many people hear a birth date and then and it diffcult to remember the sign for that date. But as you’ll see, dates can be associated to other information—any information.

mnemonics and memory improvement

Here are the signs of the zodiac, the date spreads, and some suggestions for changing those dates into tangible pictures:

how to memorize - mnemonics

If you want to remember all the signs, simply Link them. Either make up a Substitute Word for the sign, or, if you know the meanings, use them—they all can be pictured. For Aries, you can use arrows, air E’s, or simply picture a ram. At this point you should be able to work this out easily for yourself.

If you don’t know the meanings of the signs, associate one to the other—sign to meaning. Most of them are obvious, of course; but if you had to you could, say, associate gem (Gemini) to twins.

To remember the sign and date spread in each case, associate a Substitute Word for the sign, or its meaning (see Aries-ram example above), to a phrase that will give you the vital dates. For instance, a silly picture of a ram sucking a gigantic mint as it runs gives you both the sign and the date spread. A picture of a corn wearing a cap, or a goat living in your home as a tenant and always toting things up (tote up) tells you that Capricorns are born between December 21 and January 19.

As usual, you can put anything you like into your association. If you see a picture of a bull (Taurus or tore ass) being a runt (small bull) and very stubbornly breaking a gigantic lens, you have a reminder of the sign, the date spread, and one of the characteristics of Taurus people—stubbornness.

Now for historical dates. Again, you already have the necessary basic knowledge. All you have to do is transpose the intangible date to a tangible picture and associate that picture to the event.

We’ll start with one you already know—the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. A Kaiser (if you’re using the zero in front of single digits) or a car (7th month, 4th day, July 4) signing the Declaration and receiving plenty of cash (’76) for signing it will tell you the event and the date. The assumption is that you’d know the century digits, but you can put a reminder into the association if you like. Take cash would do it.

Usually, it isn’t necessary to put the century figures into the association. You probably know that the great Chicago fire occurred in the 1800’s. So a picture of a cot (’71) starting a great fire tells you that the date is 1871. Napoleon was crowned emperor in 1804; picture a man with his hand in his jacket (Napoleon) wearing a large crown—it’s so heavy, it makes his head sore (’04). (If you like, you can picture a dove flying out of the crown, to remind you of 18.) The Titanic sank in the year 1912. Picture a large sheet of tin sinking; or, if you want the century figures, see it sinking in a tub.

Having used the states and the Presidents as examples earlier, we’ll continue using them now—you can include a picture to represent any date in any of your original associations. Perhaps you want to remember the year in which a state was admitted to the Union. Nothing could be simpler. Indiana was admitted in 1816; get dish or dove dish into your original association. You can’t talk (Kentucky) because there’s a dog bone in your throat—this picture would remind you that Kentucky was admitted to the Union in 1792.

President Grant was born on April 27, 1822. Picture a large piece of granite (Substitute Word for Grant, or use rant) putting a ring (427 = April 27) on a nun’s (’22) finger. If you see this silly picture taking place on a ship, that will help you remember that President Grant was inaugurated in 1869.

William Shakespeare’s baptism was recorded on April 26, 1564. See yourself shaking a spear in a tall jar (1564) on a ranch (April 26). If you want to remember only the month and year, rattle jar, or retail chair (4-1564) would suffice. If you already know the century, rasher or reacher would remind you of April, ’64.

The first man to step onto the moon was Neil Armstrong, and he did it on July 20, 1969. A picture of a man with a strong arm (or just a strong muscular arm) holding hundreds of cans (720, July 20) would tell you the month and day. See the man (or the arm) coming out of a ship, and you have a reminder of the year. If you want to remember the month and year only, associate the Substitute Word for Armstrong to ketchup (7-’69).

If you formed an association of a stevedore dressed in lace and wrestling a bear, it would help you remember that Robert Louis Stevenson (stevedore) was born in 1850 (lace) and died in 1894 (bear).

Now you can remember any date by changing it to a tangible picture and associating that to the person, place, or event. Again, once you’ve used the memorized information a few times and it has become knowledge, the system has served its purpose the ridiculous pictures fade because you no longer need them.