August is the time to reap what you’ve sown, quite literally even, as most summer vegetables are ready to be harvested.
It goes without saying, that August then is a time to celebrate a good harvest and a good summer!
It’s also a great time of the year in the southern hemisphere, as winter is finally starting to wrap up, and spring begins to knock on the door.
Like every other month of the year, August has plenty to show for itself.
Let’s take a look at the origins of August, the traditions we celebrate during it, as well as some fun little facts to bring it all together!
August was once the sixth month of the year. In the original ten-month Roman calendar, the month went by the name of Sextilis, meaning “the sixth month” in Latin. It wasn’t until around 700BC that August was rudely shoved back in the order of months when January and February were added to the beginning of the year by King Numa Pompilius.
August has also changed its number of days multiple times. In the ten-month Roman calendar, the months all had either 30 or 31 days, totaling 304 days in the year. Not only did Pompilius add January and February to the calendar, but he also reduced the number of days in August down to 29. It wasn’t until Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar that it was left with 31 days, and it’s stayed the same ever since!
Another year, another change! After so many changes you’d think the month would have had enough, but no – in 8 BC the month was named Augustus, in honor of the Roman emperor Augustus.
August is also a little bit unique, most of the time at least. In a standard year, there is no other month that begins on the same day of the week as August. In a leap year, however, August begins on the same day of the week as February.
Many countries in Europe see August as a holiday period. So much so in fact, that you’ll find major European cities such as Paris almost completely empty of locals. Don’t get your hopes up too much though, these cities are still packed full of tourists at this time of year!
In the northern hemisphere, August is considered to be the last month of summer. In the southern hemisphere, it’s the opposite of course, so it’s the last of the winter months!
Back in the days of the Anglo-Saxons, the month was called Weod Monath. Its translation of “weed month” is quite literal – in this month weeds and other plants grow the fastest in the northern hemisphere.
On August 1st, Lammas day is celebrated as the first day of harvest in the UK. Traditionally it was the day in which harvested wheat would be baked into bread and given to the church. The bread was used as the Communion bread for a special mass to celebrate the beginning of the harvest. This tradition ended when Henry XIII broke away from the Catholic Church.
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.
Those born in August are brought into this world under one of two star signs. If you were born before August 22nd, you’re considered to be a Leo. If you’re born on the 23rd or later, you’re a Virgo. Leos are said to be very proud people who display great leadership. Virgos, on the other hand, are analytical and hardworking people, while still being kind and loyal.
August was a big month for the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. It was on August 28, 1963, that Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous “I have a dream” speech to 250,000 people on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Considered to be one of the most iconic speeches in the history of the US, King’s speech called for the end of racial discrimination and for equal rights to all.
August also has two birth flowers – the vibrant multicolored gladiolus and the deep crimson poppy. The gladiolus flower is said to represent generosity, strength of character, and deep sincerity. The poppy flower couldn’t be more different though, as it is a sign of imagination, eternal sleep, and oblivion!
There are some pretty fascinating holidays spread throughout August which are celebrated in different parts of the world. On August 1st, we have World Scout Scarf Day, as well as the Official Birthday and Coronation of the King of Tonga (try saying that in one go!). August 5th is National Underwear Day (US), August 11th is Mountain Day (Japan), August 16th is National Rum Day (US) and August 20th is World Mosquito Day. What a month!
Unlike most other months, August has just one birthstone – peridot. One of the lesser-known gems, peridots come in shades from grass-green to a more earthy olive hue. They’re quite a unique gem, really, and quite rare as they can only be found from two very different sources – they can be formed deep in the earth and expelled to the surface along with lava, and they can be found in meteorites! It is claimed that peridots have healing powers and can protect the bearer from evil.
August was a fateful month for the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. On August 24, 79AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted near the city. The mountain spewed out great clouds of ash, smoke, and pumice, which rained down on Pompeii’s citizens. Unfortunately for Pompeii, that wasn’t the end of it either – next came molten lava, which buried the remaining residents 7 feet (2.1 m) deep!
August has quite a number of varied month-long holidays around the world. To name just a few, August is American Adventures Month, Get Ready for Kindergarten Month, as well as being the Month of Philippine Language!
The US also has some pretty delicious-sounding observances for the month relating to food! In August the US celebrates National Goat Cheese Month, National Panini Month, Peach Month, and Sandwich Month.
As there are only 12 months in the year, there are of course many incredibly famous and important people who have been born in August. Some of the more influential include Barack Obama, Usain Bolt, Sean Connery, Jennifer Lawrence, and Whitney Houston.
August is apparently a relatively common name for boys in Sweden. In 2014 it was reported to be the 55th most common name for newborn baby boys. Ironically, only 22 percent of Swedish boys named August were actually born in August!
Rock music lost a living legend on August 16, 1977, when Elvis Presley left the world behind. The King of Rock’s health had been going downhill for some time, but his death was a shock to the world.
So, there you have it, that’s August in a nutshell! No matter where you are in the world, August is a pretty wonderful time of the year.
For those readers in the northern hemisphere – get outside and enjoy the last days of summer, you’ll regret not doing so come winter!
For our southern friends, rejoice! It’s not long now until those first flowers begin to bud.