May 22, 2017

#05-045: Lazy August

white-robed man with arms raised--apparently Jesus Christ--rises in the air with two other figures flanking him; waking people in old-fashioned clothes are directly under them, and a crowd of many more look agitated
The Transfiguration of Jesus

Note: There's not much happening in August--maybe due to the heat! Still, a major pagan holiday and a major Christian one will do.

Get Ready: Are you badly affected by hot weather, or can you tolerate it easily?

August is a lazy sort of month.

In the northern hemisphere, vacations are often scheduled in this month. Perhaps one of its most obvious features is the so-called "Dog Days," which were actually the subject of the second column I ever wrote for the Shenzhen Daily, back in August of 2007 (see Lesson #01-002).

It seems that in the hottest part of summer, Sirius--"The Dog Star"--rises and sets with the summer sun, and ancient people felt that it was causing the heat--impossible, of course, as it's 8.6 light-years (roughly 81,362,282,064,195 kilometers) away.

No, the summer heat comes from our own star, the sun, which at this time is closer to the northern hemisphere, and has been beating down on it since June.


Those "lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer" (as the old ditty has it) seem to have discouraged the establishment of major holidays, at least in the English-speaking world--unless one counts celebrations of underwear (August 5), banana splits (August 25), and lemon juice (August 29) in the United States.

Canada has a day with the rather generic name "Civic Holiday" near the start of month, but there are no major observances in England, Australia, or New Zealand, either. In fact, it seems that most of modern Europe is largely bereft of any significant celebrations.


I can find only two of any widespread importance. One--now generally ignored--is at the start of the month. This is "Lammas" or "Lughnasadh," one of the eight festivals that constitutes the "Great Wheel of the Year," which celebrates the first harvest of the season.


The other is the Feast of the Transfiguration, recognized on August 6 in some Christian traditions. This commemorates an event described in the Bible in which Jesus is said to have appeared on a mountaintop with the major "Old Testament" figures Moses and Elijah, with whom he then spoke.

This was supposed to have been witnessed by the apostles Peter, James, and John, who said that he shone with bright rays of light--he was "transfigured." The moment culminated with a heavenly voice saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him."


Read more:

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. apostles
  2. banana splits
  3. bereft
  4. culminated
  5. ditty
  6. generic
  7. harvest
  8. hazy
  9. light-years
  10. transfigured

  1. transformed; changed
  2. members of Jesus' "inner circle"
  3. finished up; ended
  4. fancy ice-cream dishes
  5. the distance light can travel in a year
  6. the bringing in of crops
  7. a light-hearted song
  8. unbranded; plain
  9. going without; deprived
  10. smoggy

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for May 22, 2017

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. b; 2. d; 3. i; 4. c; 5. g; 6. h; 7. f; 8. j; 9. e; 10. a