JULY 2014: This month, many classic American foods are celebrated by commercial groups promoting everything from baked beans and horseradish to blueberries and ice cream. Some websites even declare July “Hot Dog Month.” But, seriously, we ask you: Do Americans really need to be encouraged to consume more hot dogs and ice cream in July? Nationwide, July is the month when summer is in full swing, complete with a holiday-shortened work week for the Fourth of July.
This month also is known for …
World War I Centennial
The 100th anniversary of the First World War could be dated anywhere from June 28 (the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria) to August 1 (when the major European powers had declared war). Starting in the spring of 2014—new books, films, stories and photos will be flooding American media for several years. Fans of Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge on PBS already have been dragged into World War I. To learn more about the religious and cross-cultural issues that were transformed during the global conflict, read our recent interview with historian Philip Jenkins on his new book, The Great and Holy War.
Family Reunion Month
In recent decades, many calendars across the United States have listed July as “Family Reunion Month”—but the truth is: You can find June, July and August designated in that way, depending on the source you consult. In 1985, a proclamation by Ronald Reagan set the “month” from mid May to mid June in an effort to bookend Memorial Day weekend and the start of summer. Whatever your preference may be—go on, organize a family reunion this summer. You’ll be glad you did!
The Muslim fasting month runs through most of July, all around the world. Because the Muslim calendar moves through lunar cycles—and some Muslims still rely on physical sightings of the moon—the start and end of the fast can vary by nation, community and even by individual practice. You’ll enjoy our full Holidays column on Ramadan, published in late June.
Whether July is part of the “Dog Days of Summer” depends on your perspective and your era in world history. Ancient Romans thought Dog Days ran from late July through most of August. Some editions of the Old Farmer’s Almanac have started Dog Days in early July. The popular online reference tool, Dictionary.com, lists Dog Days as “the sultry part of the summer, supposed to occur during the period that Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun: now often reckoned from July 3 to August 11.” A 16th-century edition of the Book of Common Prayers listed a similar range of “Dog Daies” from early July through mid August.
Our ReadTheSpirit team couldn’t find an official Dog Days of Summer website, so we’ve included our favorite dog video by a ReadTheSpirit author: Rabbi Bob Alper.
OK, OK! So, we admit: It’s the only dog video by a ReadTheSpirit author. But, please watch it: We all love Rabbi Alper’s wry humor—and his dog Barney? His portrayal of a culturally competent canine? It’s Oscar-worthy. CLICK THE VIDEO SCREEN BELOW …