Facts about England in August
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.
1st 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.
To bring good luck, farmers would let the first corn bread go stale and then crumble it over the corners of their barns.