The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The definitive ranking of the best and worst months of the year

Dog days of summer (Don DeBold / Flickr)

It's telling that Congress typically only does one sensible thing in a given year, and they do it in August: they take the entire month off. FDR's vice president John Nance Garner famously proclaimed "no good legislation ever comes out of Washington after June."

The reason? Washington, and much of the rest of the country, turns into a fetid disgusting humid swamp some time after the 4th of July. In 1959, Senator Margaret Chase Smith (R-Maine) argued that summer congressional overwork led to "confused thinking, harmful emotions, destructive tempers, unsound and unwise legislation, and ill health."

True for Congress, and true for the rest of us too. Which is why it should be clear to any right-thinking individual that August is the worst month of the year! But shockingly, Americans don't rank August as the worst month. Or the second-worst, or even the third. In a 2005 Gallup survey -- the most recent year the survey firm asked this question -- August came in as only the fourth-worst month of the year.

Gallup asked 1,000 Americans about their favorite month. May came in first, with October running a close second. June and December tied for third, with July and April tied for fifth. In a grave injustice, Americans ranked the winter months of January and February dead last.

It's also fascinating to see how Americans' seasonal preferences have changed over the past 45 years.

Gallup asked this question previously in 1960. Since then, October, December and November have risen considerably in Americans' esteem. September, August and January have fallen in the rankings.

Both the 1960 and June 2005 rankings are wrong, for reasons I'll get into shortly. But first, Gallup also asked Americans about their favorite days of the week.

It's odd to me that Friday ranks higher than Saturday and Sunday -- people have to work on Friday! But evidently, the anticipation of the weekend is even more enjoyable than the weekend itself. Conversely, Tuesday is hands-down the worst day of the week, ranking even lower than Monday.

There's a bit of a partisan dimension to these numbers. Republicans (27 percent) are more likely than Democrats (21 percent) or Independents (20 percent) to call Sunday their favorite day -- a reflection, no doubt, of the greater religiosity in the Republican party.

Gallup has partisan breakdowns of favorite months too -- here's how those rankings stack up.

Democrats are slight outliers when it comes to monthly preferences. They pick July as their favorite month. And December ranks relatively low -- Democrats put it at 7th place, while Republicans and Independents have it at third. All groups agree that the first three months of the year are the three worst.

But the only thing you need to know about these rankings is that they are wrong. Dead wrong, in fact.

Look, October is the greatest month of the year, period. Sweaters. PSLs. Leaves. Decorative gourds. And September is basically October-lite, which gives it an automatic second place. April is okay too -- warm enough to feel like spring, but not too hot. January and February mean snow, and snow is great -- 4 and 5. The other months are kind of middling. March? Does anybody have strong opinions about March (no, they don't).

But the real strength in my ranking is that it places the summer months of July and August where they belong -- dead last. Honestly I wish there was another month of the year just so I could give July and August lower scores. But there isn't, so here we are.

Let me know your favorite month below, or share your ranking with me on Twitter so I can tell you how wrong you are.

Which month is the best?

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