By Bill Taylor
It seems to me that something about the month of June is different from all the other months. The cruel winds of winter and the storms of March are just a memory. April provided fickle promises of nice weather compromised by downright chilly days that caught early blossoms unaware. May was a transition month where the trees began to blossom and leaf out and folks started planting their early flowers and vegetables but the weather was still unpredictable. Perhaps it’s the June days filled with soft sunlight and its cool, quiet evenings that has made the month long holding a special place of promise and hope in our hearts.
June is the sixth month of the year and is one of the four months with a length of 30 days. June also contains the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the day with the most daylight hours, and is the beginning of the traditional astronomical summer on 21 June. In the Southern Hemisphere, however, June has the winter solstice with the least number of daylight hours and the beginning of winter.
Just how and why this month got its name is not clear. According to several sources, the name June is derived from the from the Roman goddess Juno, the wife of the supreme deity Jupiter. In Roman myth, she is the patron goddess of Rome and is also the Roman goddess of marriage and childbirth. Although the name June for the month kinda faded for some time, in the seventeenth century, the Latin name for the sixth month crept into English as Iunius or Junius, meaning “sacred to Juno.”
Today June is the accepted name for the sixth month around the world.
One additional tie to the name Juno is that June weddings are very popular. Whether this tradition may have started because of the blessing that this goddess supposedly bestowed on those wed in her namesake month isn’t clear, but June weddings surely do represent promise and hope.
You know, there’s something about June that inspires song writers to compose romantic ballads such as “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” which includes the lines, “ By the light of the silvery moon, I want to spoon, to my honey
I’ll croon love’s tune, Honeymoon keep a-shining in June, Your silvery beams will bring love dreams, we’ll be cuddling soon, By the silvery moon.” The music was written in 1901 by Gus Edwards with words by Edward Madden and has been revived and performed repeatedly by many artists ever since. You know what? I kinda think the sentiment is still valid today.
Ok, so what else is special about June? Well, there are two “official” holidays: Father’s Day, the third Sunday in June, which has been described as “a second Christmas for all the men’s gift-oriented industries” and Flag Day, celebrated on June 14, commemorating the adoption of the flag of the United States, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress on that day in 1777. An unofficial holiday, June 6, commemorates D-Day, 1944, the WWII allied invasion of France – an event filled with the hope and promise of the end of Nazi oppression.
In addition to the end of the school year with “freedom” for students and relief for teachers, June has traditionally been the month for graduation from high schools and colleges/universities. These events have long been marked with ceremonies honoring those who have completed their studies and are embarking on new ventures. The ritual “tossing the tassels” and throwing caps in the air symbolize the change from the old to the new and the hope and promise of the future.
There are other characteristics of June that Nature has provided us. Out in the countryside rows of emerging corn are showing the promise of the harvest yet to come. Our home vegetable gardens are in and some plants, such as our edible-pod peas, are already showing promise of an early harvest. And as for flowers, we have our first delicate roses of the of the summer and the geraniums we wintered over in our home and replanted outside are doing quite nicely in the warm, gentle June days.
You know, most of us don’t read poetry very often and I’m not sure poetry is even studied in schools any more, but I think one particular poem, which may be found easily on the Internet, is one everyone should read in its entirely some time in June. It was written by James Russell Lowell (1819-91)and begins, “And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days; Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune, And over it softly her warm ear lays; Whether we look, or whether we listen, We hear life murmur, or see it glisten.”
And that is the essence of June … At least that’s how it seems to me.