Ah, August, Sextilis how boring you are. Here in Tennessee its pretty damned hot in August and with humidity often reaching 100% for weeks at a time I find myself wondering if there is really anything interesting about the month. I researched and found that probably the most interesting thing is the lack of interesting things. Read on and see if you agree.
August is the eighth month of the year and the sixth month of the Roman calendar. The Romans called the month Sextilis, which means sixth. Eight years before Jesus was born the name of the month was changed to Augustus in honour of the Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar, because many of the important events in his life happened around that time of year.
The Anglo-Saxons called it Weod monath, which means Weed month, because it is the month when weeds and other plants grow very rapidly.
August is a rare month in which there are no National holidays that are observed all across the United States. However, that does not mean that people have not adopted August as a month to highlight their favorite cause. August has been designated National Immunization Awareness Month, National Win With Civility Month, and Neurosurgery Outreach Month. It contains National Elvis Week and National Resurrect Romance week, perhaps for those who have forgotten to observe national girlfriend day, which is on the first day of the month.
The Dog Days of August are frequently referred to in literature and in common parlance. When someone mentions Dog Days they are usually referring to the hot and humid days that seem to stifle activity and make the average commuter long for the beach or an air-conditioner. The name, “Dog Days”, comes from the star Sirius – also called the Dog Star. It is the brightest star in the night sky, but in summer it conjoins with the sun (meaning we can’t see it from the Earth because the sun comes between us and it). The ancients believed that Sirius emitted heat that affected the Earth. When the sun and the dog star came together, they thought it increased the heat level on the planet. Since this conjunction of sun and star occurred throughout August, the name Dog Days stuck to the month.
The birthstone for August is the Peridot.
Looking at the popularity and profusion of peridot as August’s birthstone, it’s hard to believe that for almost 2,000 years the original source of this lovely summer gem was lost in the mists of history. In fact, the island of Zeberget, today called the Isle of Saint John, was literally lost in banks of fog off the coast of Egypt until the early 1900s, making the yellowish green peridot from the island so rare as to become the almost legendary.
In ancient times, mariners and pirates believed that peridot would glow in the dark whenever it was near buried treasure or hidden ore veins, particularly of gold or silver.
Medieval alchemists used peridot in amulets to protect the wearer from demons, but by Renaissance times, peridot had become a love stone, worn to attract romance. Eastern mystics recommended peridot to stimulate tissue regeneration.
More common uses for peridot were to attract wealth and prosperity, or to ward off stress. In this century, peridot has become the August birthstone, the 16th anniversary gem, and the zodiac stone for Leo. It has also been alleged to encourage a positive emotional outlook on life, to prevent fear or guilt, and to help develop patience.
The good news for peridot lovers is that new American sources for peridot in gorgeous clear yellowish green colors have made peridot both more available and lovelier than ever.
So now you be the judge is August still droll and boring? Maybe its not.