British Traditions > July

The month of July was named in honour of Julius Caesar by Mark Anthony. At one time it had been the fifth month of the year and named Quinctillis. Later however January and February were added to the calendar making the name Quinctillis incorrect. Earlier still July was called Maedmonath, the month when cattle were allowed to graze in the flowering meadows.

St Mary's Day - July 2nd

July the 2nd is St Mary's day and there is an old tradition that if it rains on this day it will rain for four weeks.

July 3rd until July 11th

These nine days, usually very hot, are known as the dog days. This name comes from the Roman belief that Sirius (the Dog Star) lent extra heat to the sun during this time by rising and setting with it.

St Bullion's Day - July 4th

It is said that if the deer rise and lie down dry on this day (i.e. it doesn't rain) the harvest will be a good one.

St Sexburga's Day - July 6th

Before the calendar was changed St Sexburga's Day was midsummer day. There was a tradition that cucumber seeds planted on this day would produce a good crop whether the weather was wet or dry.

St Swithin's Day - July 15th

St Swithin
St Swithin, Bishop of Winchester from around 852 A.D. - 862 A.D. directed that he should be buried outside the cathedral so that he could feel the rain on his body and the feet of the devout on his grave. When the rebuilding of Winchester cathedral was completed on the 15th July 971 A.D. his wishes were ignored and his body was buried inside the cathedral. The saint, it is said, cried at this outrage and from that time on rain on St Swithin's Day means rain for the next forty days.

St Swithin's Day, if thou be fair,
For forty days it will remain.
St Swithin's Day, if thou bring rain,
For forty days it will remain.

St Margaret's Day - July 20th

This day is said to be very good for planting turnips.

St Mary Magdalene's Day - July 22nd

Tradition has it that rain on this day means Mary Magdalene is washing her handkerchief in preparation for:-

July 25th

The feast day of St James the Great, her cousin.