Regular readers of this column would be able to tell you that I am a heat lover. I love it! Weatherwise that is. I also love July. It is my favourite month of the year. To me, July is about three of my most favourite things: barbeques, baseball and beer. Not necessarily in that order, mind you, and best if all three are combined together.
July was named by the Roman Senate in honor of the Roman general, Julius Caesar, it being the month of his birth. Prior to that, it was called Quintilis. Really? Thank goodness for Julius Caesar. “Quintilis” just doesn’t have the same ring to it now does it?
Apparently the Romans were also responsible for the naming of the “Dog Days” of summer. They referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the "Dog Star" because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). Sirius is also the brightest star in the night sky. According to my sources the Romans used to sacrifice a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather. I don’t think anyone’s doing that anymore, though, or at least I hope they’re not!
Canada Day is celebrated here on July 1st and the Excited States of America celebrates their Independence Day in July, too. I have attended celebrations in both countries, and, as with many things, I think we do it better in Canada. Compared to the July 4th celebrations that I have attended.
I am unsure as to why so many countries have found independence in July. Somalia, Belarus, the United States, the Philippines, Algeria, Venezuela, Argentina, South Sudan, Bahamas, Columbia, Belgium, Maldives, Peru and Vanuatu all celebrate Independence Days in July. Maybe the original rulers were too hot to fight. “Nah, you can have it! I just want to sit here in the shade with my iced tea, thanks.”
Based on memories from my youth the greatest attraction to July was its absolute freedom. As children we didn’t have a worry in the world. School was out and the summer was fresh. No homework or early morning bus rides. Clothes were even easy. Just a pair of shorts worked pretty much every day. I didn’t live on a farm so there were no stones to pick or bales to toss onto racks or chickens to water and feed. Either my brother or I had to cut the grass the odd time and that was the extent of responsibility for those few fleeting years. I still get a sense of those bygone days when the sun is at that particular July angle and the smell of swimming pool chlorine is in the air. Ahhhhhh!
July is National Hot Dog month and National Ice Cream month and one doesn’t have to think too hard to know why. July is also picnics at the lake and watermellon and fishing and sunburns and mosquito bites. It’s campfires and sleeping under the stars and hide ‘n seek and swimming lessons. It’s visits from family and summer camp. Long car rides to vacation spots and air conditioning. July is summer.
I hope you have a great July, Dear Reader. Savour it. You could love it, too.
“Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.” Ada Louise Huxtable (1921-2013).