Ambling Along into August


August is the eighth month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the fifth month of the year to have 31 days. In the UK, the hottest days of the year are often in August and it is a busy time for holidays as it falls in the six week summer break for schools. Similarly, in many European countries, August is also the holiday month for workers.

In the southern hemisphere, August is the equivalent of February in the northern hemisphere.
The original Latin name for August was Sextillis as it was the sixth month in the then Roman ten-month calendar, when March was the first month of the year. August became the eighth month around 700 BC when January and February were added to the year by King Numa Pompilius who gave it 29 days. The extra two days were added by Julius Caesar when he created the Julian calendar in 45 BC.

In 8 BC the month was renamed August in honour of the first Roman emperor, Augustus Caesar (who ruled the Roman Empire from 27 BC until AD 14). Augustus is said to have chosen to name this month after himself because it was the time of several of his great triumphs, including the conquest of Egypt. The Latin term Augustus mensis means Month of Augustus. 

Statue of the first Roman emperor, Augustus Caesar (27BC-AD14) as a younger Otavian. Sculpted artwork dated around 30BC. Located int the Mus

So what else can I say about this summer month? Here are a few facts:

  1. August’s birthstones are the peridot and the sardonyx:

2. Its birth flowers are the gladiolus and poppy. The gladiolus represents beauty, strength, love, marriage and family. Poppies come in different colours but it is the the red one that is associated with August and it signifies pleasure.

3. The zodiac signs for the month of August are Leo (until August 22) and Virgo (from August 23 onwards):

4. The Anglo Saxon name for August was Weodmonath, meaning Weed Month. The word could refer to herbs or grass, as well as the unwanted plants we think of as weeds today. August was the month when all plants grew the most rapidly. The Venerable Bede (672/3 – 735) tells us: ‘Weodmonad means ‘month of tares (vetches), for they are plentiful then’. (The spelling of the word here is how Bede spelled it and (for a change) isn’t a typo on my behalf!)  Unfortunately I have no photos of weeds, as Nick won’t allow them to grow in our garden 🙂 but I have a not-too-wonderful photo of vetch growing along the lane:

5. Henry VI Part 1 and The Tempest are the only Shakespeare plays that mention August.

6. Warren Harding was the only US president to have died in the month of August.

Warren Harding. Photo taken 1882. Author:unattributed Public Domain

7. Certain meteor showers occur in August, including the Kappa Cygnids and the larger Perseids meteor shower.

156 (meteor) bodies detected in the sky on a single photographic plate during the Leonid meteor shower in 1998. Source: Astronomical and geophysical observatory at Comenius University in Modra, Slovakia. Author: Juraj Troth. Creative Commons

8.  In Ancient Rome, the festival of Supplica Canum was held in August every year. It was an annual sacrifice in which dogs were suspended from a furca, (fork) or a crux (cross) and paraded around the city. In the same procession, geese were honoured by being carried around adorned in purple and gold. The tradition stemmed from a nighttime siege of Rome by the Gauls during which the watch dogs failed to bark. On that occasion, it was the noisy, honking geese that alerted the city to the attack. The failure of the dogs led to them being ritually punished every following year. Gruesome!

9. On a more cheerful note, August is National Goat Cheese Month in the  U.S. I believe it involves the promotion of goats cheese as a healthier option than cheese made from cow’s milk. I love all cheese. In fact, I think I’m probably a cheeseaholic.

10. Lammas Day is in August and is a holiday celebrated in some European countries as a thanksgiving for the harvest. The name, Lammas, comes from the Anglo Saxon word hlaf-maesse, meaning loaf mass. The festival of Lammas marks the beginning of the harvest  and people say prayers in church for the first corn to be cut. (Note that in Britain ‘corn’ has traditionally referred to the cereal crops of wheat, barley oats and rye and not maize.)

Medieval illustration of men harvesting wheat with reaping hooks on a calendar page in Queen Mary’s Psalter. Dated around 1310. Author: Anonymous. Public Domain

In the medieval period, farmers made loaves from the new wheat at Lammas, and gave them to the church to use in the Communion. The custom ended when Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church in 1534. Today, harvest festival services are at the end of the harvest in September, with Michaelmas Day (Sept 29) traditionally being the last day of the harvest season.

Lammas Day used to be a time of foretelling marriages and trying out partners (trial marriages). This was usually for 11 days, the duration of the fair. At he end of that time, if the pair didn’t get on they simply parted. Lammas was also a time when farmers gave each of their farm workers a gift of a pair of gloves. And to bring good luck, farmers would let a loaf of corn bread go stale, then crumble it up into the corners of their barns

August is a month for several festivals in Britain. These are 3 of them:

  1. The Edinburgh Festival. This was started in 1947 to celebrate the performing arts and includes concerts, plays, ballets and operas.

A street performer in the Royal Mile at the Edinburgh fringe in 2004. No machine- readable author provided. Creative Commons

  1. The Royal National Eisteddfod in Wales. Eisteddfod is an old tradition which was revived in 19th century. It originated in medieval times as a gathering of bards and minstrels, all competing for the prized chair at the noble’s table. It is held in the first week of August and attended by people from all over Wales.

Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales, in 2012. Flag bearers in traditional Celtic dress parade in a festival of traditional folk music and dancing. Shutterstock image

3. The Notting Hill Carnival in London. This festival is held on the last Monday of August i.e. Bank Holiday Monday in the UK. It is a colourful procession with elaborate costumes. It originated in the 1960s to celebrate the cultural traditions of the many Caribbean immigrants who came to Britain at that time.

The Notting Hill Carnival in London, 2014.Author: David Sedlecky. Creative Commons

I found this great quote which fits in so well with the theme of festivals in Britain – and Europe in general. (Harry/Henry Rollins is an American musician, actor, writer, television and radio host, and comedian.):

Every summer, from late July and into August, I find myself in Europe, performing at any festival that will have me.’ – Harry Rollins

There are many anniversaries to be celebrated in August, worldwide, and  these are merely a few of the many British ones:

  • August 1st 1774: Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen at Bowood House in Wiltshire
  • August 4th 1914:  the First World War started.
  • August 14th 1945: the Second World War ended.
  • August 15th 1872: the first regular police detective force was formed.
  • August 25th 1919: daily flights between London & Paris began, thus starting the first international air service.
  • August 31st 1997:  Princess Diana was killed killed in car accident in France.

And to finish with here are some photos from the lanes around our village and in our garden:

All are bright with developing fruits and berries. Many of the early (sown last autumn) barley fields have already been harvested, although there are still a few fields of spring-sown barley around. The wheat has yet to be harvested:

And absolutely lastly, here are a few photos of our garden as we amble along into August. I was delighted to see the lovely butterflies in our front garden this morning (August 1st). They really love the Buddleia davidii bush!

About milliethom

I am a reader and writer of historical fiction with a keen interest in the Earth's history and all it involves, both physically and socially. I like nothing better than to be outdoors, especially in faraway places, and baking is something I do when my eyes need respite from my computer screen.
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55 Responses to Ambling Along into August

  1. Wow! This is a lo-ong post. Must have taken you seven months to write it Millie 😉 Love it!

    • milliethom says:

      Hi Joycelin. Yes, it is a rather long post (Lol) and I really should have cut it down a bit. Mind you, most of it is photos and images, and they can be viewed very quickly. I’m glad you liked it, though.
      Btw I owe you an email, and I’ll try to do it asap. We’ve had a very difficult time here since March, as I explained. Things should be easing off soon. I haven’t done many blog posts this year at all but I’ve tried to keep my blog going, mostly with travel & history posts. Hope all is well with you and yours.

      • We shall write each other soon Millie. Life has flown by so quickly this year. Busy for me too. Hugs.xx

      • milliethom says:

        Hugs to you, Joycelin. I’ve missed all the chats we used to have on our blogs. I hope your artwork is going well for you. I know you were concentrating a lot on that this year. Your art is beautiful and I hope it sells well for you.

      • Thank you very much Millie, I miss you too. I have to get one or two things right, and then it will help me settle in my writing. xx Talk soon.

      • milliethom says:

        Will try to write as soon as I can. Glad to hear you haven’t given up your writing. I wondered whether you’d decided just to concentrate on your art in future. It would be a shame to give up on your Memoir after all the work you’ve already done on it. your artwork is just fantastic, though, and I’d understand if you did want to focus entirely on that. ❤

      • Oh Millie, sometimes I’m torn between the two, but the writing always wins. The painting is like messing around, really. It is like a child in front of the TV who has homework to do. But with TV being on, the child just procrastinates, knowing she does not have to really think where as with homework she has to. Hahaha. Take care and talk soon. Love.x

  2. anroworld says:

    Dear Millie, your bright colorful posts about summer months do not stop surprising me and make me always smile. August in my country is also mostly vacational and hot. Actually, this week we are suffering from +35, no grasp of fresh air even in shadow. Also, august is the most rich for fruits and vegetables. Your garden and surroundings look amazing. August if the final summer month – this thought makes me feel a bit sad as I am not ready to say goodbye to summer yet!

    • milliethom says:

      Wow, 35 degrees is hot, especially when there isn’t even a breeze. Our summer has been such a mix of bright sunny days and grey, rainy ones – usual for Britain, I suppose. Like you, I don’t look forward to saying goodbye to summer. We look forward to it for so long and it seems to be over in a flash. Thank you, Ann!

  3. MG WELLS says:

    A lovely, informative post. I do hope August is a better month than July was for me. Thanks for sharing your work. Best wishes.

    • milliethom says:

      I didn’t realise that July was so bad for you, MG. I hope that doesn’t mean you were ill – but whatever made you feel down, I hope August lifts your spirits. You work so hard and need to rest now. I’ll email you tomorrow.

  4. draliman says:

    Lovely flowery photos 🙂 I bet you’re in hot demand on pub quizzes with all those facts!
    One day I want to be famous enough to be allowed to add a month or two to the calendar.

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Ali. Ha ha. I don’t know about pub quizzes, but my head is full of things I’ve learned about each of the months I write about. (I can’t remember the last time we took part in a pub quiz. Perhaps we need to get out a bit more! :D)
      An extra month or two every year should be fun. It would be interesting to speculate as to where you’d actually plonk them. An extra month in the summer holidays would be nice, although most parents would likely scream at the thought. How about an extra month of Christmas? Have you any plans for doing something amazing to make you famous – like becoming an astronaut or suchlike? 🙂

  5. Jeanne says:

    From your lovely photos, Millie, it must be true that English Gardens are the best. Yours is amazing. This is a fun, informative post. When I was teaching 6th grade, I gave the challenge of creating a calendar – they needed to research the month, note the holidays, famous birthdays, interesting facts for each day and create a unique image. The students were so, so excited but no group wanted the Month of August…that’s the most boring month, no holidays and it’s Back to School. Here in the US, I had to admit they were kind of right. Too bad they didn’t have your post as a resource. 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      I don’t know about English gardens being the best, Jeanne, but most house-holders take a pride in them. There are always exceptions, mind you, and there are some gardens that look more like jungles! Lol. My husband has always loved gardening, and in the 47 years we’ve been married, I’ve hardly ever needed to buy vegetables. That’s just as well, with six children to feed!.
      I know what you mean about motivating students. I taught 11-18-year-olds for years. In the UK, our 6 week summer holiday only started a week before the end of July, so August is the main month for going away. I can also understand why August isn’t so popular with students in the US. Going back to school after a long break is never much fun. Thank you so much for liking my (very long) post. 😀

  6. This is so interesting. What a great article!

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you, Cathy! I started doing these posts about the months in May and will carry on until I’ve been through the year. I even surprise myself at some of the things I find out. I just wish I’d started them in January – so much neater. Lol

  7. Christy B says:

    Millie, this post is a lovely welcome for the new month of August 🙂 I didn’t know a lot of these facts so I’m happy to feast on them here in your post. I also love seeing your garden, which is loving the nice weather, obviously! Hugs

    • milliethom says:

      August is generally a happy, holiday month in the UK. So many families are away, either in Britain or abroad, while the school holidays are on. I’m glad you liked the ‘facts’. There are some there that I didn’t know until I started researching about the month. I’d never heard of the Roman Supplica Canum (sacrifice of the dogs) for a start. That is quite horrible, but in keeping with other Roman practices, I suppose. I’m looking forward to August, too and hope the weather is warm and sunny, Autumn is just around the corner, as the lanes and gardens show. Thank you, Christy. 🙂

  8. Norma says:

    Thanks for this post Millie. I loved your garden pics. 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Thank Norma! I’ll pass your kind remarks to my husband. He’s that one who does the gardening! The garden is looking quite colourful and all the fruits and vegetables growing and ripening nicely. 🙂

      • Norma says:

        Sure! 🙂 I have taken a new hobby myself and that is gardening. I love to see new buds and leaves as they come out. It’s like the greatest joy. Even if you see chilies in your garden they make you happy. 😀

      • milliethom says:

        You’re right, all kinds of vegetation makes the Earth a beautiful place to be. Where would we be without all the lovely colours and scents?

      • Norma says:

        …talking about scents I just saw some button rose blooms coming to life. I had been waiting for them. The summers here are killing(as you would know;)) so I was just keeping my fingers crossed for them and all the other plants. When you talk about — sowing and reaping and getting the results — I think gardening is the best example. 😀

  9. Good idea of telling monthly about the month we are in. Your August sounds good and summery. Here we are freezing! August is also not the best month in the year for me but I survive it every year. You gave a lot of interesting information on August. Mid summer is usually a good holiday and festive time. Enjoy while it is good outside!

    • milliethom says:

      Hi Ineke. Our weather at the moment is very changeable, and we’re hoping the forecast for a high pressure moving in next week won’t be wrong. We need some consistent sunshine. . I know how you feel about winter. It’s no fun being freezing all the time. Just dream of spring.
      The idea to do monthly posts like this came by accident, really. I did one about the May Day festival in the next village to us and followed it up with posts about other ways in which May has been celebrated. When it got to June it occurred to me there was a lot I could say about June, and it just went on from there. Once I’ve done a whole year, that will be that, of course.
      Thanks for dropping by, Ineke. I haven’t posted a great deal recently.

      • It’s good to have a subject which you can follow up. I also feel that there are many traditions which are interesting to tell about. I miss my SA traditional days and events. Here it’s more rugby, rugby and rugby.

      • milliethom says:

        You could always do some posts about SA culture and traditions. I, for one, love to read about them.
        Ah, NZ rugby… What a fabulous team you have in the All Blacks. And being winter in NZ, the rugby season will be in full swing. But I know what you mean about missing the things you grew up with in SA.

      • Good idea to do some SA traditions. I’ve got a huge collection of photos too. I also enjoy learning about NZ and their ways.

  10. Dina says:

    Your one and colourful post gave me so many smiles, Millie. Thank you! 🙂
    Have a wonderful weekend,
    Dina & co

  11. Ann Koplow says:

    Gr8 post, Millie, about the 8th month.

  12. DG MARYOGA says:

    What a brilliant August post,dear Millie!I so much enjoyed your holistic,analytical approach and your delightful summer mosaics!Your reference to the Anglo Saxon name for August was particularly interesting.There’s always so much hidden knowledge behind every name,onomatology always excites me.Just a wee visit,my wonderful WP & Twitter friend,I’ve so much missed your remarkable posts.Happy Month of August 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      How lovely to see you here, Doda. I hadn’t realised you were back on your blog. I’ve just checked and I see you have a new post! I’ll be sure to pop over and read it asap.
      I’m enjoying doing these monthly posts. August is the fourth month I’ve written about and there are so many interesting facts about every month. It seems I’ve committed myself to doing the other eight months. Mind you, I’m hardly doing any posts on WP at the moment, as I’m working hard to finish Book 3 of my trilogy. It’s been far too long in coming.
      I hope you are enjoying an amazing summer in Greece. 😀

      • DG MARYOGA says:

        Thank you for your kindness and understanding,Millie!A few trips to Europe last September kept me away from WP and I lost contact with all my very special WP friends.I just posted something to show signs of life lol.Btw,all your posts are interesting and always enrich my knowledge.Please let me know,at least on Twitter when you 3rd book is ready.Now,we’re enjoying our holidays in Greece before heading overseas again 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        I’m working hard on the 3rd book now, Doda, although it isn’t easy when all I want to do is be outside. Summer isn’t the best time to hibernate indoors. Thank you for your kind words about my posts, although I do so few at the moment because of my writing.
        Have a fabulous time when you head overseas again. Travel is one of the most educational things I know. 😀

      • DG MARYOGA says:

        Couldn’t agree more,Millie.During winter we are all more creative and we can easily focus on serious work.Enjoy your summer days,writing can wait … Yes,travel is to live,to learn,to conquer the unknow 🙂

  13. Sheila says:

    Happy August! That’s amazing about the festival in ancient Rome. How strange that the geese warned everyone instead. I love your festival and garden photos – they capture the fun and beauty of summer. I hope you’ve been able to spend lots of time relaxing in your garden this summer.

    • milliethom says:

      I just had to include that little snippet about the Roman festival. It’s a gruesome thing to think about, but geese are well known as good ‘guard dogs’. They make a great racket when anyone approaches, so I suppose that’s what happened when the Gauls attacked Rome. Goodness knows what happened to the real guard dogs.
      Summer here has been the usual mixed bag so far. Today is lovely and sunny again after almost a week of rain and low temps. Our maritime climate is just too fickle for words.
      Happy August to you, too.

  14. Antonia says:

    Your garden and photos are just gorgeous Millie! I love this post and all of the interesting facts about August! I hope your August is lovely!

  15. wonderful images Millie and thanks for your historical lesson on this hot hot ( for us right now) month. I enjoyed the August arts in Edinburgh!

  16. I must pass this post along to my Mum she has an August birthday, she’s always disliked her birthstone – big mistake by whatever jeweller allocated it to Leo’s he he. I’ve just finished in the Edinburgh Festival and your photos sum up the month in England perfectly.

    • milliethom says:

      August is a lovely month in the UK and there’s so much going on! It was hard to miss out so many interesting facts but my post was threatening to go on forever. You’ll certainly remember the fab time you had in August this year!

    • milliethom says:

      I forgot to reply to you comment about August birthstones. I don’t know which stone you mum dislikes as her birthstone, but peridot is now the main birthstone for Leo (and August as a whole). It was originally sardonyx, and although both are acceptable for Leo, the main one is peridot. A third August gem is spinel. All 3 can be used, so your mum could probably take her pick! 😀

  17. jimenobaeznarvaez says:

    I hope your August is lovely! I’ve just finished in the Edinburgh Festival and your photos sum up the month in England perfectly.

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you! I’ve just taken a peek at your blog, and see you are a cookery blog. Were you involved in food and/or cooking at the Festival? I’ve been to Edinburgh several times but never been to the Festival. Perhaps next year…
      Unfortunately the August weather hasn’t been too great in my part of England. this year. I usually love the summer months and hope we have a better August next year.
      I’ll pop back to have a browse round your blog asap.

  18. leroyjhunt says:

    I hope your August is lovely! I hope your August is lovely!

  19. inesephoto says:

    Love these monthly posts, Millie! Thank you for all the cool facts I have learned.

  20. milliethom says:

    Thanks again, Inese. I started these ‘monthly’ posts in May and have now done five of them, So I have another seven to do to complete the year. The intention was to do just one post a month while our daughter was ill, but I’ve added a few in between. I learn a lot myself, too, by researching about each month. There’s so much about each, it’s hard to know what to include! 🙂

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