British Traditions > August

Sextilis was the name given to the sixth month of the year by the Romans. When January and February were added to the calendar the name of the 'sixth' month was incorrect. The Emperor Augustus is said to have regarded Sextilis as his lucky month and since Julius Caesar had a month named after him Augustus in similar vein changed Sextilis to August.

Sextilis, renamed August, had once been called Weodmonath by the Anglo-Saxons referring to the growth of crops and the general abundance of nature at this time of year.

1st August

The 1st of August was an important day in the pagan calendar. Its ancient name was the Gule of August and on this day the gathering of the first fruits of the harvest was celebrated. This festival was later absorbed into the Christian calendar and became known as Lammas (Loaf Mass). The communion wafers for this Mass were made from bread baked from the new harvest's grain. The Bank Holiday which used to be held at Lammas time (a moveable Church feast) was changed by the government to become a fixed holiday at the end of august.

August 10th St Laurence's Day

There is a saying attached to this Saint's Day – “if on St. Laurence's Day the weather be fine, a fair Autumn and good wine can be expected”. 

August 10th was also St Philomena's Day until it was abolished but the Pope in in 1961 because there did not appear to be enough evidence that she ever actually lived.

August 12th

Red Grouse
This was traditionally the day when grouse shooting begins often referred to as "The Glorious 12th”.