August 3, 2011

August Dates and Facts

Graham, EloiseBy Eloise Graham

The Month of August – some facts as to its origin

As all of you probably remember from school, July and August are named for Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar, respectively. The new names replaced Quintus, meaning the fifth month, and Sextillus, meaning the sixth month. The Roman Senate changed the name of Quintus to July in honor of Julius Caesar, who had reformed their calendar, which had degenerated into a chaotic embarrassment.

Then when Augustus defeated Marc Antony and Cleopatra, becoming the emperor of Rome, the Senate decided that he, too, should have a month named after him. But now a problem arose. Sextillus only had 30 days and July had 31 days. Augustus shouldn’t have an inferior month, so the calendar was altered again. Before that change, the 30-day 31-day cycle had rotated alternately with the exception of February, which had 29 days except for leap year when it had 30. So the extra day was taken from February. Since the months evenly alternated between 30 and 31 days, adding the extra day to August meant that July, August and September would all have 31 days. So to avoid three long months in a row, the lengths of the last four months were switched around, giving us 30 days in September, April, June and November.
Editor’s Note: This made me wonder what it might have been like at the Senate meetings. Did someone filibuster to get 31 days for Augustus? Who argued that three 31-day months in a row would be too many? Did they get to go home for summer recess or stay behind closed doors and hammer out all of the changes? Maybe some things never change!

The August Birthstone – Peridot
Peridot is a pale green to yellow-green gem. It has been found in ancient Greek and Roman jewelry dating back to the 16th Century BC. The Egyptians called this lustrous stone the “gem of the gods.”

In ancient pagan cultures, peridot was thought to ward off anxiety, enhance speechs and foster success in relationships and marriage.

Some August Birthdays of people you might remember

1. Jerry Garcia
2. Peter O’Toole
3. Martha Stewart
4. Roger Clemens, Louis Armstrong
5. Neil Armstrong
6. Lucille Ball
7. Mata Hari, Grandma Moses
8. Esther Williams
9. Deion Sanders
10. Herbert Hoover
11. Hulk Hogan
12. Pete Sampras
13. Fidel Castro, Alfred Hitchcock
14. Magic Johnson, Halle Berry
15. Napolean Bonaparte
16. Madonna, Frank Gifford
17. Sean Penn, Robert DeNiro
18. Robert Redford
19. Bill Clinton, Orville Wright
20. Connie Chung, Emily Bronte
21. Wilt Chamberlain
22. Norman Schwarzkopf
23. Kobe Bryant, Gene Kelly
24. Cal Ripken Jr.
25. Regis Philbin, Sean Connery
26. Macaulay Culkin
27. LBJ, Mother Teresa28. Scott Hamilton
29. Michael Jackson
30. Jean Claude Killy
31. Richard Gere