Month of August
The month of August is named for the Roman Emperor Augustus. He completed the calendar reforms begun by his great-uncle and adoptive father Julius Caesar. The Roman Senate, in order to curry favor with the tyrant changed the name of the eighth month, (which is fitting because before he became Augustus, this Caesar was named Octavian). The name was changed from Sextilis which actually meant "sixth month". The eighth month had been called the sixth month for over a centuries, because the Roman Senate had rolled back the beginning of the year to January 1st in 153 B.C. but had not changed the names of the months to conform to their new position in the calendar.
August or Sextilis (at that time) originally had 30 days. Numa, in his reform took a day away and Julius in his reform in 46 B.C. gave a day back. When the Roman Senate designated the month August, they stole a day from February to build up July making June equal to the month of July (the month of Julius). Today it continues to carry 31 days. It is fortunate that the Roman Emperors who came later did not get their own months. The calendar could be quite a mess and we could have ended up with months named for Commodus, Elagabalus, or Maximinus Thrax. It's not as if they did not try. For a few years the month of April was called Neronius for the infamous Nero.
William the Conquerer brought the name August to England where it replaced Weodmonaš, which meant "month of weeds".
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 an olive colored stone called the peridot.
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