By A.J. Sefton
1. July is named after Julius Caesar as it was the month of his birth. Before 44 BC, the month was known as Quintilis as it was the fifth month of the old Roman calendar.
2. Well dressing takes place, mostly in the county of Derbyshire. This is an ancient tradition where wells, natural springs or other sources of water are decorated. There is usually a picture made from pieces of bark, petals, seeds, moss and leaves that are used like mosaics.
3. Until the middle of the 18th century, the word July in English rhymed with truly.
4. Swan Upping takes place on the River Thames. This has taken place since the twelfth century and involves catching, counting and labelling the swans and then releasing them back into the river. All mute swans belong to the reigning monarch.
5. The Anglo-Saxons called June and July “Litha” meaning navigable or calm, referring to the sea and weather. “Aefteralitha” (after-calm) followed.
6. As the main harvest starts, the weather is vital. A popular saying is: ‘If the first of July be rainy weather, ‘Twill rain, more or less, for four weeks together.’ Saint Swithin’s Day falls on the 15th, where the weather is watched and whatever happens on that day, will continue for the next forty days.
7. Bilberries were harvested in July. These small dark berries were usually collected by children because of their small fingers. As always in these Anglo-Saxon times, the end of the season was marked by celebrations and feasts on Bilberry Sunday, the last Sunday in July.
8. Most pilgrimages took place during July in Anglo-Saxon and Medieval times.
9. “The English winter – ending in July, to recommence in August,” (Lord Byron).
10. My wonderful daughter, Amanda, was born in this month (30th).