History of June

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Juno

HISTORY OF JUNE

June represents the year’s halfway point, the sixth of the twelve months of the Gregorian calendar, which we currently use in the West, and the earlier Julian calendar, named for Julius Caesar, the namesake of July. Where do we get the name for June?

 

What’s In A Name?

Ovid, author of the bi-millennial best-selling magnum opus Metamorphoses — where he takes the Greek myths and gives them Roman names — suggests two possible etymologies.

  • The first and more likely origin is the Roman goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter, who was referred to as Hera by the Greeks. She is the patroness of marriages, and most marriages happen during June. It was considered good luck to get married during June, though the good weather and school vacation could have something to do with it now.
  • Ovid also submitted that the month was named for Iuniores, Latin for “young people,” in the same way that May is named for “elders” or Maiores. And as we all recall from the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” there was no J in Latin in the 1st century.

 

Astronomy and June

June contains the longest days of the year, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, including the longest day (daylight) of the year, the Summer Solstice. This is also called Midsummer Day  – made famous by Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream – when the “sun stands still” in its trek north in the sky, reverses its course, and begins heading south.

 

Holidays in June

June contains the festival days in the Christian calendar for the birth of St. John the Baptist, which occurred six months before the nativity of Jesus. It also celebrates the festivals of St. Peter and St. Paul, the patron saints of Rome. And in Rome, if you throw in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, you have “Peter, Paul, and Mary,” no relation to the folk music group.

 

Why June Weddings

While some believe June is Wedding Month, it was not always so with the ancient Romans. As mentioned earlier, to pick a good day for his daughter to marry, Ovid consulted the high priestess of Jupiter, who said mid-May through mid-June was inauspicious and recommended he postpone until after June 15.

 

June Gloom

Southern coast of California

This is a phenomenon, particularly along coastal Southern California, where the weather exhibits overcast and cloudy skies in what is otherwise the late Spring and early Summer. The “Golden State” is not so golden from Santa Barbara south to San Diego Counties.

One might expect a bright sunny day, but a windbreaker is required in San Diego to avoid the chill. June Gloom may occur as early as GRAYpril or MayGray and extend as late as No-Sky July or even Fogust.

 

Royalty in June

Some British Commonwealth countries celebrate the third Saturday of June as the King’s Official Birthday. It was first marked in 1748 for King George II (not the infamous George III), and it’s been celebrated this way ever since. This official birthday this year, June 15, is distinguished from King Charles III‘s actual birthday, November 14.

 

Summer?

When does it begin?

  • June 1 is the beginning of the meteorological summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • The unofficial beginning of Summer is Memorial Day.
  • The official beginning of Summer waits until the Summer Solstice.

In the pagan calendar, the Summer Solstice is the time of Litha, similar to the way the Winter Solstice is Yule, an old Norse word for a twelve-day celebration.

June hosts such important holidays, so mark your calendar. Flag Day (June 14), International Picnic Day (June 18), and the perennial favorite Juneteenth (June 19) all happen during this month.

Trivia: No other month in the same year starts on the same day of the week as June.

 

So June is more than just Dads and Grads.

 

Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian
billpetro.com

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About billpetro

Bill Petro writes articles on history, technology, pop culture, and travel. He has been a technology sales enablement executive with extensive experience in Cloud Computing, Automation, Data Center, Information Storage, Big Data/Analytics, Mobile, and Social technologies.

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