Time unit personification

Includes personification of days, months and, less commonly, other time units

A type of ordinal linguistic personification

(Image: collage found on the wall of an abandoned house in Seville,Spain. Author unknown.)

Personifying numbers and letters is the best-known type of ordinal linguistic personification, but some people personify time units, so each day of the week or month of the year, for example, also has its own physical appearance, style of dressing, gender, age and personality. These are consistent associations that do not usually vary throughout the synesthete’s lifetime. Having personalities for time units appears to be much less common than having them for graphemes, but it doesn’t usually occur alone: everything points to the fact that the synesthetes who personify learned sequences of time units also tend to personify numbers and/or letters, although there are no studies as yet that can tell us the frequency of each separate type and how many different types usually occur together.

Here are some descriptions written by people with this type of synesthesia:

Month personification

“June is a very full, contented older sister. November is a sad, aging woman with a blue shawl. December is neither old or young, but very wise. January, being the first month, is like a young colt, and always rearing to go.”

(Source: a comment in the blog The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy)

"January f: sensible; not many friends; introvert; if January has a friend it’s February

February f: underdog to January; nicer; not so introvert, January has more standing

June f: beautiful, popular; best friends with July; slightly snobby

August m: similar to October; both chubby, boys among girls, and may be defensive

December m: a young guy; really, really nice; protective over the rest; maybe a boss”

(Source: J. Simner and E. Holenstein 2007. This study participant personified numbers, letters and months.)

“December and January are twin sisters in their 80’s, each having snow white hair. December is more openly friendly, while January is more reserved. February is their younger friend; she’s in her 70’s, and is a bit naive. March isn’t always bad tempered, but she does have mood swings. She pals around with August when she’s angry because August is feisty. The two of them mock others on occasion. April is a sad girl everyone forgets about. She usually sits in a window seat and looks out the window quietly. May is sweet, calm, and quiet; she likes to stay out of other’s business. She’s the one who takes care of April when others forget about her; so I guess she’s like April’s mom. June is a soft, middle-aged lady in a white dress; she walks through gardens a lot. July is a young teenager, about sixteen, in a rose colored dress; she’s lovely and flippant. September is the only boy; he’s twins with October (they both have red hair). November is their mother, and she has a temper but loves to cook.”

(Source: the book Synesthetes by Sean Day (2016), p70.  You can get a pdf copy here. This synesthete personifies numbers, days and months.)

Weekday personification

“Monday is shy, and most often forgotten about. He is very friendly and quite sunny, if given the chance. Rather like the month April. I don’t know much about Tuesday; sometimes, I’m not even quite sure of the gender. Lately, I’m sure she’s a she. Wednesday is friends with everyone, and is fun to be around. He’s very comforting when you’re down. Thursday is my favorite; she’s Tuesday’s aunt. Friday is a very bright and sunny young man. Saturday is extremely helpful, and is quite the gentleman. Sunday is a God, and is always dressed in white. He is very loving.”

(Source: the book Synesthetes by Sean Day (2016), p70. You can get a pdf copy hereThis synesthete, the same person as cited in the second example of the months above, personifies numbers, days and months.)

Personification of parts of the day and relative clock times

“I was talking to someone about times and said I love the time quarter to. (…) I wondered whether other people experience something similar with personifications for times past or to the hour and for hours of the day themselves. I think the colours and personalities I associate with them are largely related to the number that are used to represent them though.

I would say morning is female, midday is male, afternoon is female and evening is neutral and spiky.

I would say quarter past is male and confident. Half past is male and lazy. Quarter to is female and sassy and inextricably linked to the number seven.”

(Source: This post/comment on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2022.)

Go to the page on ordinal linguistic personification and personification in general

This page last updated: 06 December 2022

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