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 August.
August was originally named Sextilis, derived from Latin because it was the sixth month in the original ten-month Roman calendar under Romulus (with March being the first month of the year). Somewhere around 700 BC, it became the eighth month when January and February were added to the year by King Numa Pompilius. Pompulius also gave the month 29 days, but Julius Caesar added two days when he created the Julian calendar in 46 BC.
In 8 BC, it was renamed in honor of Emperor Augustus, who apparently chose the month because it was the time of several of his great triumphs, including the conquest of Egypt.
Among the aborigines of the Canary Islands, especially among the Guanches of Tenerife, the month was called Beñesmer (or Beñesmen), which was also the harvest festival held in the same month.
August has a significant number of meteor showers. The Kappa Cygnids vary each year around August. The Alpha Capricornids meteor shower takes place as early as July 10th and ends a month later. The Southern Delta Aquariids take place from mid-July to mid-August, with the peak usually around July 28th or 29th. The Perseids, a major meteor shower, typically takes place between July 17th and August 24th. Finally, the star cluster of Messier 30 is best observed this month.
Internationally, observances include American Adventures Month (which celebrates vacationing in the Americas), Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, Digestive Tract Paralysis (DTP) Month, Get Ready for Kindergarten Month, Happiness Happens Month, Month of Philippine Languages (or Buwan ng Wika), Neurosurgery Outreach Month, Psoriasis Awareness Month, Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month, and What Will Be Your Legacy Month.
In the United States, August is National Black Business Month, National Children’s Vision and Learning Month, National Immunization Awareness Month, National Princess Peach Month, National Water Quality Month, and National Win with Civility Month. The United States also adds food related observances with National Catfish Month, National Dippin’ Dots Month, Family Meals Month, National Goat Cheese Month, National Panini Month, Peach Month, and Sandwich Month.
- August’s birthstones are the peridot (classically believed to drive away fear and open the mind), sardonyx (a red version of the onyx believed to bestow courage), and spinel (which is believed to drive passion).
- The western zodiac signs of August are Leo (until August 22) and Virgo (August 23 onwards).
- The month’s birth flowers are the gladiolus and the poppy, symbolizing beauty, strength of character, love, marriage, and family.
Rabbit Rabbit is a project designed to look at each month of the year with respect to history, observances, and more.
For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.