July is named after Julius Caesar, the Roman leader who in the year 45 BCE, along with help from mathematicians and astronomers, created the Julian calendar, which is basically the same calendar we use today!
The changes involved reordering, renaming, and readjusting the number of days for the months from the previous calendar. Another major innovation was including an extra day in the year once every four years, known as a “leap year,” in order to keep the seasons properly aligned. Later, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar, which modified the way leap years were counted. While the Gregorian calendar is technically the one that most of the world uses today, the biggest changes occurred during Julius Caesar’s revision.
While we might not put much thought to calendars in our day-to-day lives, having an accurate calendar meant a lot to ancient civilizations. Farmers needed to know when to plant and when to expect heavy rains or drought, and plan accordingly for harvests. Many religious observances occurred annually on equinoxes and/or solstices, so calendars were employed in order to prepare for these festivals and holidays. Similarly, nowadays we are able to plan ahead for weather patterns and holidays thanks to our calendars.
If we take a step back and think for a moment about how many early civilizations had their own ways of measuring time, it is a remarkable achievement to get everyone “on the same page” with an accurate calendar – in fact, one can just imagine how difficult it would be to discuss history in any meaningful way without being able to point to certain dates on an accurate calendar.
It is perhaps fitting then that July is a month of historical importance for many countries around the world. Canada, the United States, Belgium, Malawi, Ghana, the Philippines, Rwanda, South Korea, Liberia, and France celebrate their Independence Days in July. Many other countries celebrate the creation of their constitutions in this month as well.
The July gemstone is the ruby. This red stone has had many meanings throughout the ages. As you might have expected, it is often associated with love and passion due to its red color, but did you also know that it was thought that rubies could ward off evil or protect one from harm? Ancient Chinese warriors embedded rubies in their armor, hoping that doing so would save them in battle. Ancient Burmese warriors went even further, implanting the rubies directly into their skin in the belief that this would make them invincible!
The larkspur, July’s flower, is a vibrant, purple flower that has five distinct petals. Similar to what was believed about the ruby, ancient cultures thought the larkspur could protect them by repelling poisonous snakes, curing scorpion stings, and even drive away evil ghosts! Over time it became a symbol for having an open heart and a positive mindset. That makes it a perfect flower for July, when we put our open hearts to use during those spontaneous, unstructured summer days.
There are 31 days in July.
None – unless you count summer school programs, camps, or other enrichment opportunities. Just about every school district in the USA does not have classes during July.
Here are over 6,300 lesson plans for July.
School may be out, but learning never takes a break. After finishing a school year, July is a chance for some lessons to stick, while others may slip away. One way to encourage the former and avoid the latter is to have students keep a journal of their summer highlights. After all, many students go out into the world during this time – whether it is on a vacation, visiting with family members they only get to see a few times a year, attending summer camps, playing sports, or even discovering new hobbies, games, and relationships in their own neighborhood. There’s a reason why students seem to grow up so much when we see them again in September – it’s because they’re finally getting a small window of time to take everything we’ve taught them and apply it to the real world. Keeping a reflective journal would not only record their progress, but it would also create a time capsule of their experiences that they will surely treasure later.
Yes, please do. Enjoy!