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Joseph Kaminski

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June 26, 2017

Quick History: The Month of August


If you’re like me, you just realized that 2016 is already well over halfway finished. We’ve entered the eighth month of the year 2016, yet I still feel like it’s 2012. For the next thirty-one days (counting today), the Gregorian calendar will be flipped to the month of August. The month of peridot and sardonyx, of gladiolus and poppy, and of Leo and Virgo.

Originally titled Sextilis on Latin-written, Roman-made calendars sporting only ten months, August started out as the sixth month in the year. During this period of time, around 753 BC, each year started with March as the first year.

It wasn’t until 53 years later, in 700 BC, when Sextilis became the eighth month we know today. January and February were added by Numa Pompilius, the legendary second king of Rome.

In the year 8 BC, Sextilis was renamed August – a symbolic gesture towards Augustus.

According to Macrobius, the brilliant 5th-century writer, Augustus chose the month to coincide with his own history. In the past, the month had been generous to him. It was during this time of the year that Augustus went through several of his greatest and most historical triumphs – such as his conquest of Egypt.

To combat a commonly associated theory, August did not change the amount of days in his new month from 30 to 31. Many people believe that August has 31 days because Augustus wanted his month to match the exact length of Julius Caesar’s July. However, this rumor didn’t even exist until the 13th century. Sextilis had 31 days way before its initial renaming ceremony.

So, in August we celebrate International Beer Day (August 5th), International Clown Week (August 1st – 7th), and the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition (August 23rd). But, if you take a look at history, the month remains as an “eternal” memorial to Augustus that will “stand the tests of time”.

augustus

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