Tuesday, June 4, 2019

June Has Now Come

June has now come, bending beneath her weight of roses, to ornament the halls and bowers which summer has hung with green.  For this is the Month of Roses and their beauty and fragrance conjure up again many in poetical creation which memory had buried.  We think of Herrick's Sappho and how the roses were always white until they tried to rival her fair complexion, and blushing for shame because they were vanquished, have ever since remained red; of Shakespeare's Juliet, musing as she leant over the balcony in the moonlight, and thinking that a rose "by any other name would smell as sweet."  They carry us back to Chaucer's Emilie, whom we again see pacing the garden in the early morning, her hair blown backward, while as she gathers roses, carefully, she "thrusts the thorns her little hand."  We again see Milton's Eve in Eden, standing half-veiled in a cloud of fragrance - "so thick the blushing roses round about her blow."


Though the summer solstice takes place on the 21st day, June is only the third month of the year in respect of temperature, being preceded in this respect by July and August.  The mornings, in the early part of the month especially, are liable to be even frosty, to the extensive damage of the buds of the fruit trees.  Nevertheless, June is the month of greatest summer beauty - the month during which the trees are in their best and freshest garniture. "The leafy month of June," Coleridge well calls it, the month when the flowers are at the richest in hue and profusion.  In English landscape, the conical busters of the chestnut buds, and the tassels of the laburnum and lilac, vie above with the variegated show of wild-flowers below.  Nature is now a pretty maiden of seventeen, she may show caterer charms afterwards, but she can never be again so gaily so freshly beautiful.  Dr. Aikin says justly that June is in reality, in this climate, what the poets only dream May to be.  The mean temperature of the air was given by an observer in Scotland as 59 degrees Fahrenheit, against 60 degrees for August and 61 degrees for July.

The sun, formula speaking, reaches the most northerly point in the zodiac, and enters the constellation of Cancer on the 21st of June; but for several days about that time there is no observable difference in his position, or his hours of rising and setting.  The length of the day is about 16 hours 15 minutes. at Edinburgh, the longest ay is about 17 1/2 hours.  At that season, in Scotland, there is a glow equal to dawn, in the north, through the whole of the brief night.  The present writer was able at Edinburgh to read the title-page of a book by the light of the northern sky, at midnight of the 14th of June 1849.  In Shetland, the light at midnight is like a good twilight, and the text of any ordinary book may be easily read.


11 - St. Barnabas the Apostle, a holiday of the Church of England.  In the old style, the 11th of June was the longest day; hence an ancient rhyme;

Barnaby Bright
The longest day and the shortest night.

15 - St. Vitus's Day - St. Vitus was a Sicilian martyr.  From him, though for what reason is doubtful, is named a well-know nervous affection of the limbs, proceeding from a disordered state of the visceral system.  It was a popular belief that rain on this ay indicated rain for thirty days thereafter.

24 - St. John's Day - the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, a holiday of the Church of England.  The Eve of St. John, variously called Midsummer Eve, was formerly a time of high observance amongst the English, as it still is in Catholic countries.  Bonfires were everywhere lighted, round which the people danced with joyful demonstrations, occasionally leaping through the flame.  A certain number of citizens formed a watch, which perambulated the streets all night.  It was also believed that on this eve, by fasting, waking, pulling certain herbs and going through certain ceremonies, it was possible to obtain an insight into futurity on some important points.  Fasting St. John's Fast was a great feat of young women a century or two ago.  There was a custom of holding vigil in the church porch, precisely the same as described under St. Mark's Day (April 25).

29 - St. Peter's Day, a high festival of the Romish Church, and a holiday of the Church of England.  It is celebrated at Rome with illuminations and magnificent ceremonials.

from All Round the Year, A Monthly Garland and Key To The Calendar
by Thomas Miller

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