Friday, June 1, 2018


It's June. June is the 6th month of the calendar year, meaning that 2018 is already almost half-over! (It seems to be a common experience that the year passes quicker the older one gets!) 

The Latin name for June is Junius, possibly named after the Roman goddess Juno (corresponding to the Greek goddess Hera), the goddess of marriage and the wife of the chief Roman god Jupiter (corresponding to the Greek god Zeus). In ancient Rome, May was considered inauspicious for marriage, which may account for Juno's connection with June as a month especially favorable for weddings. A fondness for June weddings was still a cultural reality at least until the 20th century.

Along with weddings, another traditional June fixture has been graduations, although as academic calendars keep migrating earlier and earlier, graduations are increasingly as much May events as June events. (I graduated 8th grade on June 25 and high school on the same date four years later. My City College graduation date, however, was May 30, but then my Princeton Ph.D. graduation was on June 7.) While graduations celebrate accomplishment and moving forward, they also ritualize ending and separation and so have always shave a somewhat sad side as well.

Depending on the vagaries of the lunar liturgical calendar, the Easter season may be entirely over by June 1, as is the case this year, or it may extend into June as it will in 2019, when Pentecost occurs on June 9. The later Pentecost comes, of course, the later will Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi, the latter traditionally observed in historically Catholic countries as one of the biggest public festivals of the year, but barely even noticed in some other places 

Ignoring the liturgical calendar (and, at least for some, certainly superseding it), the 3rd Sunday of June is Father's Day in the United States. The American Father's Day originated early in the 20th century as a kind of copycat to Mother's Day with all that suggests. (Prior to that, there had, however, been a Catholic tradition, dating back to the Middle Ages, of honoring fatherhood on Saint Joseph's Day, a much more less commercial celebration than the contemporary American holiday.)

With its presumption of warm and sunny weather, June is obviously a good month for a public holiday. Thus, in the United Kingdom, the 2nd Saturday of June is the Sovereign's Official Birthday. (The present Queen's real birthday is actually April 21. However, her official birthday is observed on different days in the different countries of which she is sovereign.) Similarly, in Luxembourg, the Grand Duke's Official Birthday (which is celebrated as Luxembourg's National Holiday) has since 1961 been celebrated on June 23, regardless of the monarch's actual birthday (which is April 16 in the case of the currently reigning Grand Duke Henri). In the US, June is bookended by the Memorial Day holiday at the end of May and the Independence Day holiday on July 4, and so the month has no public holiday of its own.

For a happy musical celebration of June, there is, of course, Carousel's wonderful June is Busting Out All Over (1956)

(Photo: June from the famous Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, an early 15th-century prayer book, which is widely considered perhaps the best surviving example of medieval French Gothic manuscript illumination)

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