A few years ago, Roman ruler Julius Caesar, after conquering Asia Minor (now Turkey) proclaimed to the world, “Veni, Vidi Vici!”
This is why I took 3 years of Latin in high school.
It means, “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
Pretty brash, don’t you think?
Years later, my wife said, “Veni, Vidi, Visa.”
Roughly translated, it means, “I came, I saw, I charged.”
Her retail shopping mantra.
But, unlike my wife, Mr. Caesar wound up getting the 7th month of the year named in his honor.
“July” for “Julius”.
The modern media would have had a field day with the Roman ruler who once said, “If you must break the law, do it to seize power; in all other cases, observe it.”
Now Julius might be viewed as one of the more ruthless characters in ancient history but we named a month after him because of his work with Sosigenes.
He was a Greek astronomer from Ptolemaic Egypt who worked with Julius to develop the precursor to the Gregorian calendar that we use today.
Along the way, Caesar found time to dally with Cleopatra.
Julius turned Rome into a superpower but along the way, he ticked a few folks off, resulting in his assassination with Longinus and Brutus on the Ides of March.
That’s where we get the phrase, “Et Tu Brute” (even you, Brutus) which Caesar uttered when his one time buddy, Marcus Junius Brutus plunged the blade into him.
So this 7th month is called July for Julius.
We know this month is the time we celebrate the birth of our nation but I want to draw attention to other things July brings.
Some folks think that 40 day period from July 3rd through August 11th is called “the dog days of summer” because it’s so hot and pooches spend a lot of time panting.
Not so fast, my friend.
The “dog days” coincide with the year’s rising of the “Dog Star” (Sirius).
Sirius is the brightest star in the sky (after our Sun) and it part of the constellation Canis Major (or Greater Dog).
“Sirius” means “scorching” in Greek.
Ancients used to believe that the combined heat of Sirius and the Sun caused the sweltering weather often common with this time of the year.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac offers this little ditty for the “dog days of summer”.
“Dog days bright and clear
indicate a happy year.
But when accompanied by rain
for better times, our hopes are vain.”
The Old Farmer’s Almanac also gives us more sage advice.
“Ne’er trust a July sky”.
“If ant hills are high in July, the coming winter will be hard”.
(I’m guessing high ant hills mean the little busy bodies don’t want to buried in snow.)
“As July, so next January”.
“No tempest , good July, lest the corn look ruely”.
(I’ve always said I’m not a fan of “ruely” corn.)
“Whatever July and August do not boil, September cannot fry”.
(I guess if we survive the next 2 months…piece of cake!)
The July birthstone is the ruby.
Ruby comes from the Latin word “rubeus” which means red.
The ruby is the red form of the corundum and, after the diamond, is the next hardest gemstone.
Years ago, people thought the ruby protected the wearer from evil and it would protect warriors if they were added to their armor or embedded in their skin.
I can’t allow the discussion of rubies to pass without paying homage to Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll.
In today’s social climate, the “Amos and Andy” show of the early 50’s would be taboo.
However, Amos (Kingfish) would say, “Do the name Ruby Begonia ring a bell?” as a diversion whenever he was caught in a lie.
Flip Wilson used that line on occasion during his hit variety TV should from 1970-1974 show .
But he was probably best-know for his character, Geraldine Jones proclaiming, “The Devil made me do it!”
Flip’s hour was one of the most-popular shows of that era and his guest lists read like a “Who’s Who” of the entertainment world.
Now, because of the sun and the heat, I suppose the month of July would be the best month to celebrate “Nude Recreation Week” and “Nude Day”.
Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce, or “Hawkeye” on MASH used to read the “Nude Volleyball Monthly” publication during free time in “The Swamp”.
There’s not enough SPF 50 sunscreen in the world to blot out the images of nude activities like volleyball, much less the pale skin turning pink in the name of “clothes-less” freedom for me to endure.
Let’s not even think about the sand in those volleyball pits!
Now, while I would prefer nude recreation behind a closed door, I might be game for doing some cooking this month.
July 4th is not only American Independence day, it’s also “Sidewalk Egg Frying Day”.
On some really hot, sunny days in the past, I’ve tried cracking an egg on the sidewalk and met with mixed results.
“Nude Recreation Week”, “Nude Day” and “Sidewalk Egg Frying Day” are all in the month of July.
Maybe that’s why July is also “Anti-Boredom Month”…