Ask me about July and my first thoughts are of writing school reports, taking down classroom displays and endless rehearsals for summer concerts. Many others start preparing for their summer holidays and packing away the wellies in exchange for flip-flops (we hope!).
July was the fifth month of the Roman calendar. Originally it was called Quintilis "fifth" to reflect its position in the year, but was later renamed Iulius in honour of Julius Caesar. The meaning of the name is heavily debated: some believe it is from the Greek ioulos "downy beard;" others believe it to be a hypocoristic form of Iovis, a form of Jupiter. Either way, Julius has a multitude of variants, including: Julian, Jules, Julen, Julio, Yuli, Julia, Julie, Juliana and Gillian.
July also has many continental translations, including: Juli (German, Danish, Dutch, Swedish), Julio (Spanish), Juillet (French) and Xullo (Galician).
British school summer holidays don't start in July just so that children can enjoy running around in the sunshine: traditionally children were commonly off from school in July to help their parents in the fields. Many Victorian school registers record large absences in July thanks to haymaking. One school log in July 1878, for example, records: "Many children away this week in consequence of the hay-making going on in the fields, and only the little ones in school this week"*
The importance of haying in July can be seen in many other cultures as well. The Old Germanic name for July was Hou-mánód and the Finnish Heinäkuu -- both of which translate as "hay month." Closer to home, Hegmonath was also used as a name for July by the Anglo-Saxons.
Many British place names, later surnames, contain "hay" as an element. Hayden and Hayley have already converted to first names; others include Hayrick, Hayson, Haycroft and Haysom.
July is the month of sunshine, and it is no surprise that July has, on average, the highest number of hours of daylight in Britain*. Even the Vikings recognised it as such, naming it Sól-mánuðr "sun month."
The Latin name for the sun was Sol, used as the name of the popular Roman god Sol Invictus "The Unconquered Sun." It has led to many variant words and names including Solar, Solari, Solaris, Solifer, Solifera, Solstice, Soligena and Solinus. The similar Sól is Old Norse, which also happened to be the name of the Norse sun goddess. Her Germanic counterpart was Sunna, of the same meaning, and the ultimate origin for the English word sun. The Old English name Sunngifu "sun gift" (later Sunniva) is a by-product. Similarly, Saulė "sun" was the Baltic sun goddess.
The Greek sun god was Helios, whose name also quite literally meant "sun." It became Aelius in Latin and later Elio in Italian. Other translation for "sun" include: Haul (Welsh), Soleil (French) and Ravi, Surya (Sanskrit).
The Late Victorians used many sun- related word-names including Sun, Sunny, Sunday, Sunshine and Sunbeam. Haulfryn "sun hill" and Heulwen "sunshine" in Welsh were also coined at this time.
July is a time of year when deer are fawning. In previous centuries, July saw the end of the fence month: a period when it was forbidden to hunt deer and other game in the forests that ended in mid-July .
Fawn and Buck are already used as names, and Doe has possibilities akin to Bo, or as a nickname for Dorothy and other Do- names.
Tzvi or Zvi is a modern Hebrew boys name meaning "deer" with Tzivya, or Zivya as the feminine form. The Old Testament also gives us an older form of Zibiah. Hersh, or Hirsh, is the Yiddish equivalent, which can also be found in the forms Hershel, Hirshel and Herschel. From the Old Irish oss "deer" derive the names Oisin, Ossan, Ossnat/Osnait, and Oscar.
Hjörtur (Icelandic), Isi (Choctaw), Jelena (Slavic) and Maral (Armenian) all have the meaning "deer." And then there are the surnames Darby "deer town" from Old Norse, and Raleigh "roe-dear meadow" from Old English.
Ruby is the birthstone for July, which derives from the Latin rubeus "red." Ruby came into use as a first name in the 18th century. It was originally used equally on both boys and girls, most commonly Ruby was a pet-name for Reuben, but it became predominantly female by the end of the 19th century. Rubina and Rubena are variant forms.
The Larkspur is July's birth flower, which in Victorian floriography symbolised levity. The flower's scientific name is Delphinium, from the Greek δελφις (delphis) "dolphin", so named because the petals were thought to resemble the head of a dolphin. Delphi, Delphia, Delphina, Delphine and Delphinus are all from the same route. In French the plant is known as pied d’alouette, and in Spanish it is espuela de caballero.
Many different countries have names associated with days of the year; most often they are the feast days of saints. Below are some of the names associated with the days in July around the world.
1 = Aaron, Esther, Damian, Theobald, Thierry
2 = Maria, Martinian, Otto
3 = Arvo, Aurora, Leo, Raymond, Thomas
4 = Berta, Elizabeth, Finbar, Odo, Ulric, Ulrika
5 = Anthony, Catherine, Etain / Edana, Fiolomena
6 = Dominic, Lawrence, Isaias, Marietta, Romola
7 = Benedict, Felix, Nedelya, Willibald
8 = Adrian, Edgar, Elizabeth, Killian, Priscilla, Sunniva
9 = Hermine, Lucia, Veronica, Zeno
10 = Amalia, Engelbert, Kanute, Rufina
11 = Benedict, Lonan, Olga, Oliver
12 = Colman, Eleonore, Herman, Henrik
13 = Eugene, Joel, Margaret, Sarah, Veronica
14 = Bonaventura, Camilla, Giles, Roland
15 = Egon, Jacob, Julitta, Ronan, Swithun
16 = Carmen, Elvira, Reginald / Reynold, Susanne
17 = Alexius, Charlotte, Marcelline, Marina
18 = Arnulph, Frederick, Symphorosa, Theneva
19 = Aidan, Aurea, Justa, Rufina, Sara
20 = Elias, Jerome, Joseph, Margaret, Severa
21 = Daniel, Johanna, Julia, Laurence, Victor
22 = Madeleine / Magdalena, Mary, Zoraida
23 = Apollinaris, Birgitta / Bridget, Felix, Nabor
24 = Christina, Declan, Kinga, Ségolène
25 = Christopher, James, Paul, Thea, Valentine
26 = Anne / Anna, Joachim, Rosanna
27 = Martha, Natalie, Rudolph
28 = Columba, Samson, Samuel, Victor
29 = Beatrice, Martha, Olaf, Seraphina, William
30 = Abdon, Julia, Julitta, Peter
31 = Everard, Helena, Ignatius, Joseph