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Project Britain
Folklore Calendar
stories, sayings, customs
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A month by month of forgotten legends and pastimes from Britain's folk history
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Facts about the month of August
Customs and Traditions

Gemstone: Agate
Flower: Gladiolus


August, the eighth month of the year and the sixth month of the Roman calendar. The Romans called the month Sextilis, which means sixth. Eight years before Jesus was born the name of the month was changed to Augustus in honour of the Roman Emperor Augustus Casesar, because many of the important events in his life happened around that time of year.

The Anglo-Saxons called it Weod monath, which means Weed month, because it is the month when weeds and otehr plants grow most repidly.

August is the busiest time for tourism, as it falls in the main school holiday of the year, the summer holidays, which lasts for six weeks for state run schools.

All year round Lammas Day

loaf1st August is Lammas Day, and was Thanksgiving time (Harvest time) in Britain. The name comes from an Anglo-Saxon word Hlafmaesse which means Loaf Mass. The festival of Lammas marks the beginning of the harvest, when people go to church to give thanks for the first corn to be cut. This celebration predates our Christian harvest festival.

On Lammas Day farmers made loaves of bread from the new wheat crop and gave them to their local church. They were then used as the Communion bread during a special mass thanking God for the harvest. The custom ended when Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church, and nowadays we have harvest festivals at the end of the season. Michaelmas Day (September 29) is traditionally the last day of the harvest season.

Lammas Day used to be a time for foretelling marriages and trying out partners. Two young people would agree to a "trial marriage" lasting the period of the fair (usually 11 days) to see whether they were really suited for wedlock. At the end of the fair, if they didn't get on, the couple could part.

Lammas was also the time for farmers to give their farm workers a present of a pair of gloves. In Exeter, a large white glove was put on the end of a long pole which was decorated with flowers and held on high to let people know that the merriment of Lammas Fair was beginning.

Lammas Superstition

To bring good luck, farmers would let the first corn bread go stale and then crumble it over the corners of their barns.

All year round Weather-lore, beliefs and sayings

The hottest days of the year often fall in August.

'Dry August and warm doth harvest no harm'.

'If the first week of August be warm, the winter will be white and long.'

All year round Festivals and Traditions

A number of cultural festivals are held in August

dateEdinburgh Festival in Scotland

Dating from 1947, the Edinburgh Festival is primarily a celebration of the performing arts, with live concerts, plays, ballets, operas and other shows.

date Royal National Eisteddfod in Wales

The Eisteddfod is an older tradition, revived in the 19th century. It originated as a medieval gathering of bards and minstrels, attended by people across Wales, who competed for the prized chair at the noble's table.
Held during the first week of August, it celebrates Welsh arts and culture.

date Notting Hill Carnival

The carnival is held on the Summer Bank Holiday, the last Monday in August. It features a colourful procession, elaborate and extravagant costumes, and the music of many steel bands. The carnival originated in the mid 1960s as a way of celebrating and maintaining the cultural traditions of the Caribbean immigrants who live in and around the Notting Hill area.


Unusual Customs

All year round Anniversaries

1st The eleventh Olympic Games opened in Berlin in 1936.
1st In 1774 Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen in the
laboratory at Bowood House, Wiltshire, England
1st Lammas Day
2nd First roller skating rink opened in the UK (1875).
3rd Columbus set sail on his first voyage in 1492. They made their way to the Canary Islands.
4th The First World War. August 1914 – 11th November 1918
6th The sandwich was named after the Earl of Sandwich. It is said that in approx.1762, the Earl of Sandwich asked for meat to be served between slices of bread, to avoid interrupting a gambling game.
6th Jamaica gained independence in 1962 after being a British Colony for over 300 years.
8th Great Train Robbery (1963)
12th The Model T Ford, known as the Tin Lizzie and the first mass-produced car, went on sale in 1908.
12th The first communications Satellite, Echo 1, was launched in 1960 from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
12th "The Glorious 12th". The start of the Grouse season in Britain.
13th Josef Jakob, a German spy during World War II, is the last person to be executed at the Tower of London. (1941)
13th Britain carries out its last executions before the abolition of capital punishment - Peter Allen is hanged at Walton Prison, Liverpool, and John Walby at Strangeways Prison, Manchester - both convicted murderers. (1964)
14th World War II ends (1945)
14th Opening of the Olympic Games in London. (1948)
15th India and Pakistan gained independence from Britain.
15th Formation of the first regular police detective force in Britain (1872).
15th World War II: VJ Day - Victory over Japan. The official date for the ceremony to mark the formal surrender of the Japanese to the Allies less than 24 hours earlier. (1945)
15th Corporal punishment in schools is officially banned in Britain, except in independent schools in the private sector. (1987)
18th National fire service established in Britain (1941).
21st The Mona Lisa, by Leonardo de Vinci, was stolen from the Louvre Gallery in 1911 not recovered until 1913.
22nd International Red Cross founded in Geneva
22nd The Battle of Bosworth 1483 – Henry VII beat Richard III.
24th Mount Vesuvius erupts near Pompeii in southern Italy. Although roughly half the citizens of Pompeii escaped toward the sea, more than 2,000 people were buried under seven feet of molten lava, ash, and pumice. (79 AD)
25th Daily flights between London and Paris, starting the first international air service. (1919)
26th In Britain, the BBC transmits the first high-definition television pictures. (1936)
27th Official date for the Roman landing in Britain by Julius Caesar accompanied by 10,000 men of the 7th and 10th Roman Legions. (55 BC)
27th Francis Chichester left Plymouth, aboard the Gypsy Moth IV, on the first successful attempt to sail single handed around the world. (1966)
28th Martin Luther King (1929-1968), American civil rights campaigner, made his famous "I have a dream" speech in 1963
31st Princess Diana was killed in a car accident in France in 1997.

All year round

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