The Month of August: holidays, falling stars and folklore

Summer declines and roses have grown rare,
But cottage crofts are gay with hollyhocks,
And in old garden walks you breathe an air
Fragrant of pinks and August-smelling stocks
.”
—John Todhunter (1839-1916)

Welcome August!
What do we celebrate in this month?
August is the time to reap what you’ve sown, quite literally even, as most summer vegetables are ready to be harvested. In fact for us it brings the best bounty of the season, including ripened tomatoes, melons and watermelons, sweet corn on the cob, and zucchini. Canning season is here, too.

August was named to honor the first Roman emperor (and grandnephew of Julius Caesar), Augustus Caesar (63 B.C..–A.D. 14).
It is the eighth month of the year and the sixth month of the Roman calendar.
The Romans called the month Sextilis, which not by chance means sixth, but eight years before Jesus was born the name of the month was changed to Augustus in honour of the Roman Emperor.
The Anglo-Saxons called it Weod monath, which means Weed month, because it is the month when weeds and otehr plants grow most repidly.

August 1, traditionally known as Lammas Day, was a festival to mark the annual wheat and corn harvest. It also marked the mid-point between the summer solstice and autumn equinox, and was a cross-quarter day. According to popular folklore “After Lammas Day, corn ripens as much by night as by day.”
August 5 is a Civic Holiday in parts of Canada, while August 9 starts the Islamic New Year, or the First of Muharram, beginning at sundown. Traditionally, it begins at the first sighting of the lunar crescent after the new Moon.
August 10 is St. Lawrence’s Day, and according to popular folklore, a fair weather on this day presages a fair autumn.
August 11 marks the end of the Dog Days of Summer, which began on July 3.
Cat Nights begin on August 17.
This term harks back to the days when people believed in witches. A rather obscure old Irish legend said that a witch could turn herself into a cat eight times, but on the ninth time (August 17), she couldn’t regain her human form. This bit of folklore also gives us the saying that cat has nine lives. Not by chance in August nights continue to get longer and cats, crepuscular creatures, are nocturnal hunters. And their superior night vision means that the nights belong to them.
August 19 brings National Aviation Day, chosen for the birthday of Orville Wright who piloted the first recorded flight of a powered heavier-than-air machine in 1903.
August 24 is St. Bartholomew Day.
One of the original 12 Apostles, in England, many fairs were held on this day, including the famous St. Bartholomew Fair in Smithfield. Eventually, the saint’s feast day appeared in weather lore, such as “At St. Bartholomew, there comes cold dew,” or “As Bartholomew’s Day, so the whole autumn.” After this date, thunderstorms were said to be more violent.
August 26 is Women’s Equality Day, which celebrates the 1920 ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment and, with it, women’s right to vote in the United States.

But this wasn’t enough, history apart and just for fun, August 1-7 is International Clown Week, while August 3 is National Watermelon Day. Moreover, August 5-11 is National Smile Week, and don’t forget to smile!
And did you known that on August 6, 1762, the first-ever sandwich was created?
At least with such a name: It was named after the Earl of Sandwich when he requested a dish involving meat between two pieces of bread. As the story goes, he requested it as he was in the middle of a gambling game and didn’t want to interrupt it.
About August 8, national sneak some zucchini onto your neighbors’ porch day…but don’t ask me why.
August 10 is National S’mores Day. S’mores are the one of the most popular North American desserts, made with graham crackers, melted chocolate and sticky toasted marshmallows, all in one little sandwich. In fact it is estimated that over 50 million pounds of marshmallows are toasted over a fire in North America each year!
August 12 is Vinyl Record Day
August 13 is International Left-Handers Day while, in the USA, August 16 is National Rum Day.
August 17 is International Geocaching Day, but also World Honeybee Day, while August 20 is World Mosquito Day.
August 25 marks Kiss-and-Make-Up Day.
What a month!

About astrology, August’s full moon, the full Sturgeon Moon, reaches peak illumination in the morning hours of Sunday, August 22, 2021.
But don’t forget that August is a wonderful month for star gazing, as It’s the month of the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks between August 11 and 13. This year, 2021, the Perseids reach their peak just a few days after the new Moon on August 8, which means that the Moon’s usual brightness won’t wash out too many of the so-called falling stars.

August’s birth flowers are the gladiolus and the poppy. The first symbolizes strength of character, sincerity, and generosity, while poppy symbolizes eternal sleep, oblivion, but also imagination.
August’s primary birthstone is peridot, which is said to symbolize strength and healing power, protecting its wearer from nightmares and evil, ensuring harmony and happiness.
It is said that babies born in August are lucky to be guarded by peridot’s good fortune.
Peridot is the rare gem-quality form of the mineral olivine that appears in various shades of green, sometimes with a brown or yellow tinge. Also called “evening emerald,” it is formed deep inside the earth’s mantle and is brought to the surface by volcanoes. In Hawaii, peridot symbolizes the tears of Pele, the volcano goddess of fire who controls the flow of lava.
A previous birthstone for this month was sardonyx, which is characterized by alternating bands of sard and onyx, both forms of chalcedony.
Despite it can appear in several colors, it is usually reddish and white. It is thought to bring courage, happiness, and eloquence.
According to the legend, Queen Elizabeth I once gave the Earl of Essex a ring made of sardonyx, pledging her aid if he was ever in need. Later on, when accused of treason and scheduled for execution, he tried to send the ring to her but an enemy intercepted it. The queen learned of his plea only years later, after he had been beheaded.

According to popular folklore, observe on what day in August the first heavy fog occurs, and expect a hard frost on the same day in October.
But also… so many August fogs, so many winter mists!
And don’t forget that, If the first week of August is unusually warm, the winter will be white and long!
In any case, for our readers in the northern hemisphere – get outside and enjoy the last days of summer, you’ll regret not doing so come winter!
And, for our southern friends, rejoice!
It’s not long now until the first flowers begin to bud.

Images from web – Google Research

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