In Britain, when we think of July we think of summer, as it’s generally the warmest month of the year, in common with the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, July is the equivalent our our January: in other words, it’s a winter month. In Britain the six week summer holiday for schools starts sometime around July 17th – 22nd (dependent on the area and/or individual schools) and we all start thinking about enjoying some sunshine. Unfortunately, we’re often disappointed in that. Our maritime climate can be very mean to us at times. Some of us will head off to the seaside towns; others choose a quiet – or sometimes a ‘sporting’ – break in the countryside. Some of us fly off to some sunny destination overseas.
Summer is a time for summer dress, barbecues and outdoor living in general. There’s always something special about summer music, too: it has such a lighthearted appeal. In 1970, this song by Mungo Jerry could be heard blasting out all over the place. It sounds so dated now, but back then it really got people singing along with it. The hairstyles are a scream and some of the lyrics are questionable today. The video was uploaded by Carlos Fracoso on October 4 2010.
So what else is interesting about July? Here are a few facts:
- July is the seventh month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and is one of the seven months with thirty one days. It was named by the Roman senate in 44 BC in honour of the Roman general, Julius Caesar.
- Prior to that time July was called Quintillis as it was the fifth month of the Roman year, which then started in March. (Quin means five in Latin – as in quintet and quintuplet.)
- Until the 18th century the word July in English had the stress on the first syllable and rhymed with duly or truly.
- The Anglo Saxon names for July included Haymonath, referring to haymaking activities at that time, and Maedmonath, referring to the flowering of meadows.
- July starts on the same day of the week as April every common year and January in leap years.
- July’s birthstone is the ruby. The flower is the water lily:
And these are a some facts from folklore. All three are about the weather:
- ‘If ant hills are high in July,
Winter will be snowy.
- ‘If the first of July it be rainy weather
Twill rain more or less for four weeks together.’
- St Swithin’s Day is July 15. If it rains on that day, it will rain for the next 40 days.
Many anniversaries are celebrated in July worldwide and I was hard pushed to pick out just a few as examples. These first few are British:
- July 25 1586 First potatoes arrived from Columbia
- July 28 1901 First fingerprints used for identification
- July 2 1928 Equal voting rights granted to women in Britain
- July 1 1937 999 emergency service introduced
- July 3 1938 The Mallard broke the speed record for steam engines by reaching 126 mph.
And these are a few non-British anniversaries:
- July 1 Canada Day (obviously in Canada) and International Joke Day
- July 2 World UFO Day
- July 4 Independence Day, USA
- July 6 International Kissing Day
- July 14 Bastille Day in France
- July 21 1968 Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon.
- July 29 International Tiger Day
The lanes around our village have taken on a different look since the spring blossom died off. Now autumn fruits are developing, cereal crops are ripening and summer flowers are blooming.
In our garden the fruits are swelling nicely and are the most noticeable feature at present. The first flush of roses have almost all gone, most totally bashed by the heavy rains of last week. We should see a second flush around late August. But other flowers are adding colour to the garden, in the flower beds as well as the hanging baskets. These are a few photos taken earlier today (July 1st):
To finish with, here are some short poems about July:
The glowing Ruby should adorn
Those who in warm July are born,
Then will they be exempt and free
From love’s doubt and anxiety.
The Summer looks out from her brazen tower,
Through the flashing bars of July.
― Francis Thompson
‘A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay.
A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon.
A swarm of bees in July is not worth a fly.’
‘Hot July brings cooling showers,
Apricots and gillyflowers.’
– Sara Coleridge, Pretty Lessons in Verse
(Gillyflower definition: any of a number of fragrant flowers, such as the wallflower or white stock.)