Interesting Facts About August

The birthstones for August are the peridot and the sardonyx.

The flower for August is the gladiolus which symbolizes remembrance, sincerity and strength of character.

August in the Northern Hemisphere is similar to February in the Southern Hemisphere.

August was originally named “Sextilis” in Latin because it was the sixth month in the original ten-month Roman calendar. It became the eight month when January and February were added to the year before March. At this point it was renamed in honor of Augustus Caesar.

August Observances

Tuesday, August 11th is the end of the Dog Days. "Dog Days" refers to the hot sultry days of summer. In the Northern Hemisphere, the dog days of summer are mostly in the months of July and August. The Romans considered Sirius to be the “Dog Star” and believed Dog Days to be an evil time.

Saturday, August 15th is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. According to beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church this was the bodily taking-up of the Virgin Mary into heaven at the end of her earthly life. In the churches which observe it, the Assumption is commonly celebrated each year on August 15 with a major feast.

 Historical Events

Did you know that August is full of records for folks crossing the English Channel? With the swimming season for the English Channel falling between July and September, August makes sense as a best bet! In fact, the most successful day to attempt to swim the channel is August 22nd. No fewer than 66 swims have been completed on that day over the years! Below are is some information on the first male and female swimmers to cross the English Channel - coincidentally they both swam in August! 

On August 25,1875, Matthew Webb became the first known person to successfully swim across the English Channel. Webb swam the 21-mile crossing in 21 hours and 45 minutes. Traveling from England to France, he began his swim the evening of August 24th deciding to swim in the late evening because of tides. This was his second attempt at swimming the channel and Webb kept a slow and steady pace using the breaststroke. All together Webb ended up swimming approximately 39 miles due to tidal currents. After returning to England Webb was honored with a welcoming banquet where the mayor proclaimed, “In the future history of the world, I don’t believe that any such feat will be performed by anyone else." Little did the Mayor know that by 2018, as many as 1,831 people would have swam across the channel. 

Another notable figure to swim across the English Channel in August was Gertrude Ederle, the first female to complete the task. Ederle was a decorated Olympian winning a gold medal and two bronze medals in Paris in 1924. She was also the first woman to swim the length of the New York Bay. On August 6, 1926 19-year-old Ederle started her second attempt to cross the channel. Ederle began her swim in the morning in France and finished in just 14 hours and 31 minutes. Ederle was only the 6th person to swim the channel and beat the previous record by 2 hours. Afterward, Ederle told Alec Rutherford of The New York Times, “I knew it could be done, it had to be done, and I did it.”

These days channel swims are regulated by the Channel Swimming Association. If you are interested in making your attempt head over to their website to get started.

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