Here in the US, most people associate August with two things: back to school, and the hot, lazy end of summer. The scariest thing about August for most Americans is the threat of opening your front door to find a bag of zucchini.
Or so you thought. August is actually a delightfully strange month, as any glance at a detailed calendar will show you. It contains some very odd holidays and has inspired some frightening superstitions. So without further ado, here are six strange, little known things about August:
1. August 1st is Lammas Day
Lammas Day (from the Anglo-Saxon meaning loaf -mass) was traditionally a celebration of the first wheat harvest in England. During Medieval times people baked bread on Lammas Day and had it blessed by a priest. In Ireland, Lammas Day is celebrated as Lughnasadh, a word derived from the name of the Irish god Lugh. Lughnasadh originated in pre-Christian times as a harvest festival. It is still celebrated by modern Pagans as a festival of the first fruits of the harvest and is commemorated with the baking of bread, feasting, songs, and games.
2. International Clown Week
That’s right, the first week of August every year is International Clown Week, and the Saturday of that week is International Clown Day. This might sound like an obscure celebration that only clowns know about, but President Nixon himself proclaimed the holiday on August 2, 1971.
At the time, it was common for clowns to use their skills to cheer up the sick and disabled. To honor this good work, Nixon declared a week of international clown celebration. Nowadays, people in the clowning community use it as an excuse to host events and contests.
If you suffer from Coulrophobia (fear of clowns), then a whole week of clown gatherings might sound like a nightmare to you. If you enjoy being scared by clowns, I suggest you celebrate this holiday by watching your favorite scary clown movie.
3. Witches and Cats and Moon Chants oh my!
We usually associate witches, cats, and lunar rituals with October or Halloween, but August is a time of strange happenings involving all those things. Cats tend to yowl more in August, probably because they’re tired of the heat. This may have inspired an old Irish legend that a witch could turn herself into a cat eight times before August 17th, but on the ninth time, she would never be able to regain her human form. Therefore, yowley cats after this date were believed to be witches bemoaning their fate. More recently August 8th was established as National Cat Day in Canada, and I think that August is as good a month as any to celebrate the Kitty in your life.
August 15th is Chant at the Moon Day. This strange holiday was inspired by Stemilt’s late harvest Cherries, also known as moon cherries. Stemilt figured out that growing cherries at elevations of 2500 to 3500 feet would produce a later crop. Legend has it that these cherries have a sweeter flavor because the trees’ root systems are benefitting from extra gravitational pull from growing closer to the moon. Stemilt decided that his sweet cherries were worthy of celebration and coined Chant at the Moon Day. This holiday is an excellent excuse for people to enjoy summer nights and cherry eating at the same time.
4. August 13th is Left Hander’s Day
This is just one of the whacky holidays to be found in August. Some of them are so strange that no one on the internet seems to know what the even are, like Race Your Mouse Day ( 28th.) What kind of mouse? We’re so confused! At least Wiggle Your Toes Day ( 6th) is a little more straight forward.
August also features Middle Child’s Day (12th), Bad Poetry Day (18th), Mustard Day (3rd) and everyone’s favorite, Presidential Joke Day (11th). Just beware of August 8th: Sneak Some Zucchini onto your Neighbors Porch Day. If you don’t feel like being lazy this August, there are lots of things to celebrate, of course, if you do want to be lazy you can celebrate that on Lazy Day (10th).
5. August is bad luck in Brazil
Far from being the easy, lazy days of summer, August in Brazil is a time of terror for many people. Brazilians believe that if something horrible is going to happen in your life, it will happen in August. Like Friday the 13th superstitions, some Brazilians take the “Curse of August” more seriously than others, but many people change their behavior during this ill-fated month. Brazilians tend to avoid traveling, making business deals, or engaging in other risky activities during August.
In some parts of the country, it is common for people to ask to be blessed by a Catholic priest or to visit Macumba or Candomble temples ( Brazilian Voodoo) to make offerings in exchange for protection and to have their bodies ritually “closed” to evil. No one is quite sure where this fear of August comes from, but some have suggested that it originated because several unfortunate political events in Brazil have taken place in August. In any case, if your travel plans for next year include a trip to Brazil, you might want to think twice about being there in August.
6. Frankenstein Day
Another oddly Halloween- like August holiday, Frankenstein Day is celebrated on August 30th. Technically, it’s one of a few Frankenstein Days that are sprinkled throughout the calendar. Other days celebrate the publication dates of the book, but August 30th celebrates the birth of Frankenstein’s author, Mary Shelley.
Shelley was born on August 30th, 1797, which means that this year will be her 222nd birthday. Mary Shelley is widely recognized as the mother of science fiction literature, which in its infancy was strongly linked with horror. I’ve never heard of a better reason to curl up with a copy of Frankenstein and start your Halloween season early.