01 August 2012


The eighth was August, being rich array’d
In garment all of gold down to the ground;
Yet rode he not, but led a lovely maid
Forth by the lily hand, the which was crown’d
With ears of corn, and full her hand was found.
That was the righteous Virgin, which of old
Liv’d here on earth, and plenty made abound;
But after wrong was lov’d, and justice sold,
She left th’ unrighteous world, and was to heav’n extoll’d.

“In the old Roman calendar, August bore the name of Sextilis, as the sixth month of the series, and consisted but of twenty-nine days.  Julius Caesar, in reforming the calendar of his nation, extended it to thirty days.  When, not long after, Augustus conferred on it his own name, he took a day from February, and added it to August, which has consequently ever since consisted of thirty-one days.  This great ruler was born in September, and it might have been expected that he would take that month under his patronage; but a number of lucky things had happened to him in August, which, moreover, stood next to the month of his illustrious predecessor, Julius; so he preferred Sextilis as the month which should be honoured by bearing his name, and August it has ever since been among all nations deriving their civilization from the Romans.”

Robert Chambers, The Book of Days, (1832), Volume II, p. 253.

A glorious month!  It is also the Widow's birth month.

Skillful people are born in August, says the old adage.


August - the noblest, the most happy and generous division of the year...

Astronomy for August
The full moon this month - on the 1st - is known as the Sturgeon Moon or the Corn Moon.  We will also be treated to a Blue Moon on the 31st, which the Old Farmer’s Almanac calls the “Full Red Moon”, and others call the Fruit Moon or the Corn Moon or that bright thing which makes sky watching so difficult.

Meteor ShowerThe Perseid meteor shower (St. Lawrence’s Tears) is slated to peak in the predawn hours of the 11th and 12th.  This should be a better year for viewing the spectacular shower than last year, as the moon will be waning.   


Weather for August
Based on the 12 Days of Christmas: Mostly sunny and warm.
Based on the first 12 days of January: Sunny and warm, gorgeous.
Based on the Ember Days: Sunny, cool, glorious weather!

Weather Lore for August
Dry August and warm
Doth harvest no harm.

August rain gives honey, wine, and saffron. [Sounds good!  Saffron-honeycakes and a glass of wine.]

August sunshine and bright nights ripen the grapes. [Even better!]

Rain early in August refreshes the trees.
A wet August never brings dearth.
There will be as many snows in the following winter as there are rains in August. 

The same goes for the number of foggy mornings.

Rain on St. Lawrence is late but good            (August 10)
Rain on Assumption is also late but good     (August 15)
But if St. Bartholomew rains, slap him!         (August 24)
[once the harvest begins, we need dry weather.  A late rain can mildew the plants in both field and barn]

A north-wind in August brings settled weather. 

So many August fogs, so many winter mists.

Observe on what day in August the first heavy fog occurs, and expect a hard frost on the same day in October.

A fog in August indicates a severe winter and plenty of snow.

As August, so the next February.  [I don't want to think about next February.  It comes soon enough.]

If the first week in August is unusually warm, the winter will be white and long.  Describe 'unusually'.  For that matter, describe 'white and long'.  Up here, all winters are white and long.  Sometimes there is more 'white' one year than the next; nevertheless, winter starts somewhere in October and lasts through May, no matter how much white has fallen.

August thunder indications do not come alone: one thunderstorm will follow another.

If the wind has been south for two or three days, and it grows very hot, and you see clouds rise with great white tops, like towers, as if one were upon the top of another, and joined together with black on the nether side, there will be thunder and rain suddenly.
If two such clouds arise, one on either hand, it is time to make haste to shelter.

An old Albanian tradition said that the first twelve days of August foretell the weather of the succeeding twelve months.

8/1 - If geese and ducks run around with straw in their beaks today, there will be destructive storms in late summer, and autumn will be very boisterous.

8/6 - As the weather is on Transfiguration, so it will be the rest of the year. [Which I take to mean either settled or unsettled weather, as in, if the day is fine, then winter will not be hard, and autumn, spring, and summer will be equable, but if the day is stormy, then we can expect hard weather conditions throughout the year.]
8/10 - If on Saint Lawrence's Day the weather be fine, fair autumn and good wine may be hoped for.

              If it is fine on St. Laurence’s day and the day of the Assumption, there will be a good vintage.

8/11 - As the Dog Days commence, so they end.

8/15 - On Saint Mary's Day, sunshine brings much good wine. Which is especially enjoyed in my backyard on a lazy August afternoon.

            If the sun shines on Mary's day, that is a good token, and especially for wind.

8/19 - If it rains on Saint Louis' day, it will rain for eight days.

8/24 - As Bartholomew's Day, so the whole autumn.

          If Bartelmy's day be fair and clear, 
          Hope for a prosperous autumn that year.

          Saint Bartholomew's mantle wipes dry
          All the tears that Saint Swithin can cry.

          Saint Bartholomew brings the cold dew.

          If it rains on Bartholomew's Day, it will rain the forty days after.

          Thunderstorms after Bartholomew's Day are more violent.

           If the morning begins with a hoar frost, the cold weather can be soon expected, and a hard winter.

8/26 - Tradition says that it always rains today.

           The last Sunday of the month indicates the weather for the next month.


Farming and Gardening:  "August brings the sheaves of corn; then the harvest home is borne."

August fills the kitchen, and September the cellar.

“Till Lammas Day, called August's Wheel,        (Aug 1)
When the long Corn stinks of Chamomile.
When Mary left us here before,                            (Aug 15)
The Virgin's Bower begins to blow;
And yet anon the full Sunflower blew,
And became a Star for Bartholomew.”              (Aug 29)

8/1 - traditionally, cabbage seed was sowed on the first Wednesday after the 29th of July.

8/10 - Saint Lawrence's day puts the sickle to the wheat.

Plant spring flowering bulbs, like daffodils, or dig up, separate, and replant the bulbs in your garden after the second week in August.

8/15 – The Holy Queen of Heaven gives us the first nuts.

8/19 - Sow turnip seeds on Saint Sebald's day.

Cassell’s Illustrated almanac 1871 for August:
Flowers.—Tie up dahlias, watch for caterpillars, and entrap earwigs by placing on the dahlia-stick a small flower-pot with a little hay in the bottom; or it answers the same purpose to place short lengths of hollow straw or bean-stalks about the plants, and gather them up every morning. In the beginning of the month carnations and picotees may still be layered, and the better kinds should be shifted into pots as soon as they have rooted, that they may be the more readily protected from frosts. Plant out biennial stocks where they are intended to flower.

Vegetables.— Continue the earthing up of celery; bend down the necks of onions; and sow lettuce and spinach for the winter. Also prepare your bed for sowing cabbage for spring and summer supply. Hoe frequently between young plants of Brussels sprouts, Savoys, etc.

Fruit.Continue to remove weak and straggling offsets of vines, and thin out the smaller berries from your bunches of grapes, which will increase the size of the remaining fruit. Protect your ripening plums from insects by hanging decoy bottles of sugar or treacle from the walls.

August, in my 1817 almanac, is a tremendously busy time in the garden:
“Sow Cauliflowers, Spinach, Onions, Cabbages, Coleworts, Lettuce, Cresses, Chervil, and Corn Sallad, for Winter Use.  Transplant Broccoli into the Ground, where it is to remain for flowering.  Plant Slips of Savory, Thyme, Sage, Hyssop, Rosemary, Lavender, Mastick, and other aromatic Plants.  Continue to sow Rape, Radish, Mustard, Cresses, and Turnipseed every Week; they will now soon grow large enough to use.”

Health Advice for July:  “This Month use moderate Diet, forbear to sleep soon after Meat, for that brings Oppilations, Head-achs, Agues, and Catarrhs, and other Distempers of the same Kind.  Take great Care of sudden Cold after Heat.”


August. Engraving by Samuel Williams. William Hone, The Everyday Book and Table Book, (1838), p. 1058

August – Harvesting. Engraving based on an 11th century manuscript. William Walsh, Curiosities of Popular Customs (1898), p. 77