In Britain, August is part of the summer holidays. This never used to be about having fun though. Crops are beginning to ripen and children were needed to help reap the harvest. August was always a busy month.
1. August is named after Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome. It was chosen it as it was the month of his greatest triumphs.
2. Until 8BC, the Romans called August ‘Sextilis’ as it was the sixth month of their year.
3. The Anglo-Saxons called August 'Weod-monath' (weed month) as it is the month when weeds, grasses and other plants grow most rapidly.
4. Often the hottest month of the year, the old saying goes:
Dry August and warm, does harvest no harm,
If the first week of August be warm, the winter be white and long.
5. The first day of August was the festival of Lammas, the start of the harvest. The word came from the Anglo-Saxon word 'hlafmaesse', which means 'loaf mass'.
6. Eisteddfod is a festival celebrating the arts and culture of Wales and can be traced back to 1176. It takes place every year at the beginning of August, only missed in 1914 when World War One broke out.
7. Trial marriages took place in August. A couple would spend about eleven days together, the time of the Lammas fair. If they did not get on for that period they would part.
8. Farmers gave their workers a gift of gloves. A large white glove on a pole was decorated with flowers to indicate the Lammas fair.
9. The first loaf of bread made after the harvest was allowed to go stale and then crumbled into the corners of the barns to ensure the next year's harvest.
10. "In August, choler and melancholy much increase from whence proceeds long-lasting fevers and agues not easily cured.” (R Saunders, 1679)