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Research on memory for time has been limited by the difficulty of disentangling several of the fundamentally different processes that contribute to a chronological sense of the past. This study used a developmental approach to isolate one of these processes, impressions of distances in the past. Large samples of children between 3 and 12 years were asked to judge which was longer ago, their birthday or Christmas (and, in one study, Halloween and Thanksgiving). Even children under 6 years of age were able to discriminate the recency of their birthday and Christmas with great accuracy when the events were widely separated and one was within the past several months. The ability to discriminate recency on these scales appears to be a basic property of human memory that changes little with development. Other information about the locations of the events and their relative times of occurrence could only be interpreted correctly by children older than 9 years.