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The Origin Of July And The Jubilant Holidays It Holds

The month of July, unlike June, is named for a mortal, albeit one who devised and ruled an empire. Julius Caesar was a Roman general, statesman, and historian who conquered Gaul (what is now part of Italy, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands), changed the structure of the Roman government into a dictatorship, was assassinated in legendary fashion, and most importantly for our purposes, helped make the calendar what it is today.

Who is July named for?

July was named in honor of Julius Caesar. Quintilis, which was his birth month, was renamed July when he died. Quintilis means “fifth month” in Latin, which represents where this month originally fell in the Roman calendar. (If you think the story behind July is odd, check out why Tuesday is Tiw’s Day.)

Don’t forget to calendar some time to learn what else is behind the word July. Visit this article to get more insight into its history and significance.

Another of Julius Caesar’s legacies is the C-section. The Cesarean section is “an operation by which a fetus is taken from the uterus by cutting through the walls of the abdomen and uterus.” It has been rumored that Julius Caesar himself was born in this way, although historians tend to pooh-pooh this etymology.

What is the Julian calendar?

Caesar is responsible for the year as we know it having 365 days, and for the existence of a leap year every four years. How did this Julian calendar change things? The early Roman calendar had an intercalary month called Intercalans (or Mercedonius) that was 27 or 28 days long, added once every two years after February 23. For the years that included Intercalans, the remaining five days of February were omitted. Our contemporary calendar is still pretty much the same system Caesar instituted more than 2000 years ago.

How do we celebrate July?

July is a festive month. We celebrate the Fourth of July (also known as Independence Day) a US holiday in commemoration of July 4, 1776, the day on which the original 13 colonies of the United States declared independence from British rule. July 14 marks the fall of the Bastille in 1789, and the day known as Bastille Day is a national holiday of the French republic.

July 14 is International Nonbinary Person’s Day, which raises awareness about those who do not fit into the binary male/female division.

Every four years, athletes from all over the world gather to compete in the Olympic Games, which will be held in July in 2021. 

At Dictionary.com, we’re commemorating emoji on World Emoji Day on July 17. If you’re a foodie, you have your pick of days: National Ice Cream Month (and National Ice Cream Day, July 18), National Hot Dog Month, World Chocolate Day (July 7), and National French Fry Day (July 13). (Why is it called a hot dog, anyway?)

July belongs to the zodiac signs Cancer (for those born between June 21 and July 22) and Leo (for those born between July 23 and August 22). Those born under these signs have their pick of words, from intuitive to benevolent (Cancer) and lionhearted to ardent (Leo).

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The calendar has had a strange legacy of months, including “Mercedonius,” a month that used to exist ... sometimes. Find out more about it!

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