Since at least 1909, a superstition has lived in North American and the United Kingdom that if a person says or repeats the word “rabbit” upon waking up on the first day of the month, good luck will follow for the remainder of that month.
Elements of the tradition exist in the United Kingdom, New England, and even in various First Nation cultures.
While I’m not necessarily endorsing the superstition, it provides a way to look in depth at each month of the year, from history and observances to miscellaneous trivia. The topic this month is June.
June, known as Junius in Latin, originates from multiple places. One of Ovid’s origins is an ode to the Roman goddess Juno, the goddess of marriage and the wife of the supreme deity Jupiter. The second is the Latin word iuniores, meaning “younger ones”, which contrasts with maiores (“elders”), a potential origin for May. The third is Lucius Junius Brutus, founder of the Roman Republic and ancestor of the Roman family gens Junia.
In ancient Rome, mid-May through mid-June was considered unlucky and unpromising for marriage. Ovid relates a consultation with Flaminica Dialis (the high priestess of Jupiter) about setting a date for his daughter’s wedding during which he was advised to wait till after June 15. On the other hand, Plutarch implies that the entire month of June was more favorable for weddings than May.
On the ancient Roman calendar, the festival of Ludi Fabarici spanned May 29 to June 1, Kalendae Fabariae took place on June 1, the Festival to Bellona took place on June 3, Ludi Piscatorii took place on June 7, and Vestalia took place between June 7 and June 15. A Rosalia was held on June 20, and the Secular Games were held roughly every 100 years in either May or June. These dates do not correspond to the modern Gregorian calendar.
June also contains certain meteor showers, including the Arietids (May 22 to July 2 with a peak on June 7), the Beta Taurids (June 5 to July 18), and the June Bootids (June 26 to July 2).
Further observances in June include African-American Music Appreciation Month, Pride Month, Caribbean American Heritage Month, Great Outdoors Month, National Oceans Month, and PTSD Awareness Month.
Canada adds in ALS Awareness Month. Barbados includes Crop Over (through the first Monday in August) and the Season of Emancipation (spanning April 14 to August 23). The United Kingdom celebrates National Smile Month in June.
In the Catholic tradition, June is the Month of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
June also contains Juneteenth, a celebration of the emancipation of slaves in the United States. It is commemorated on the anniversary date of the June 19, 1865 announcement by Union Army general Gordon Granger. That announcement proclaimed freedom from slavery in Texas, the last state in the Union to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation.
Finally, June contains the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere – the day with the most daylight hours – and the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere – the day with the fewest daylight hours – although the polar regions are exempted.
- June’s birthstones are the pearl, alexandrite, and moonstone. Pearls are emblematic of perfection, incorruptibility, long life, and fertility. Green alexandrite represents growth, peace, hope, calm and fertility, whereas red alexandrite represents conflicting characteristics such as energy, power, passion and aggression. Moonstone represents hope, sensitivity, and abundance.
- The western zodiac signs of June are Gemini (until June 20) and Cancer (June 21 onwards).
- The month’s birth flowers are the rose and honeysuckle.
Rabbit Rabbit is a project designed to look at each month of the year with respect to history, observances, and more.
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