July: There’s More to it Than the 4th

Fourth of July celebration notice, Wiscasset, 1870

If celebrating July 4 somehow didn’t satisfy your holiday festivities quota for the month–and with fireworks being legal in the state for the first time in 70 years, it was more lively than ever–it turns out there is a whole slew of other important days to mark if you are so inclined.

You may be surprised by this list, from which we have selected some highlights below to illustrate with images from Maine Memory Network. (Disclaimer: We think these are for real, but we have not gone so far as to double-check for this tongue-in-cheek purpose. If you know otherwise, just play along.)

Blueberry picking, Kingfield, ca. 1901

Not surprisingly, the entire 31 days are designated as the national month of several summery items. July is National Blueberry Month, National Hot Dog Month, and National Ice Cream Month.

Less obvious: National Unlucky Month for Weddings (perhaps in contrast to June, the other end of the spectrum), National Cell Phone Courtesy Month (which should really be the entire year, right?), and National Anti-Boredom Month (which may qualify as the most boring designation).

Swimming at Clearwater Pond, Industry, 1929

The entire second week of the month deserves extra special recognition: it supposedly is Nude Recreation Week. (Imagine celebrating that one in January instead!)

This observance probably was not in effect in 1929 when these lovely ladies–Farmington State Normal School students–enjoyed regular birthday-suit swims. One of them, however, lamented getting a bad, full-body case of poison ivy during one excursion. So if you want to celebrate this July week, take precautions!

As it turns out, July 4 is not the first celebrated day of the month. That honor goes to Build a Scarecrow Day (July 1), World UFO Day (July 2), and Stay out of the Sun Day (July 3), among others. The 4th itself is known also as National Country Music Day and Sidewalk Egg Frying Day.

Following the 4th, there are more than 40 observances ranging from the bizarre to the delightful and everything in between. Here’s a small sample:

Soc. of the Cincinnati chocolate pot, ca. 1790

July 7: Chocolate Day. As we know, chocolate has been considered an integral part of lifestyles going back thousands of years. This Chinese chocolate pot dates to the late 18th century. To celebrate this day correctly, include chocolate at every meal. If you go for healthier dark chocolate, so much the better!

Chansonetta Stanley Emmons, Kingfield, 1907

July 10: Teddy Bear Picnic Day. What’s a picnic without a cuddly companion? On the 10th, grab some friends under 10 and their favorite stuffed bears, pack a lunch, and hit the beach, trail, or meadow to celebrate.

While this image isn’t of a picnic per se, it is of a summertime outdoor excursion, and there is a teddy bear involved (on the lap of Dorothy Stanley Emmons, center back).

July 12 celebration, Lubec, ca. 1900

July 12: “The Twelfth” or “Orangeman’s Day” is an annual Irish Protestant event commemorating the victory of King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne (1690). Primarily celebrated in Northern Ireland, the event is also marked in areas of settlement by Irish Protestants. This image shows a July 12 celebration in Lubec; the parade also was held as recently as 2010 in Bangor.

July 15: Cow Appreciation Day. Take a cue from these young men–residents of Good Will-Hinckley, around 1960–and find a member of the bovine family to embrace. Or maybe pat. Or wave to from across a fence. Okay, fine, just enjoy some dairy products and call it good.

July 20: Moon Day. Among other things, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was prolific. He wrote many, many poems about all sorts of subjects. One could probably find some poem of his to relate to all of these celebrations, but his sonnet “The Harvest Moon” fits nicely here. You can read it in our Longfellow poems database, and enjoying zooming into the finer details of this evocative illustration that originally accompanied the poem.

July 24: Amelia Earhart Day. Celebrated on the day of the famed aviator’s birth, Amelia Earhart Day seems particularly timely this year. New evidence has propelled a brand, new $2.2 million, high-tech search in the area where her plane might have gone down. Earhart, like Lindbergh, touched down a few times in Maine on this sandy Scarborough beach; she also flew into the first Portland Airport, located in Scarborough.

July 27: Summer Olympics Day (every four years). Another timely commemoration given that this year marks the 30th Summer Olympiad, to be held in London, July 27 through August 12. Maine has sent its share of Olympic hopefuls to the games; here are three from 1984. Gold medalist Joan Benoit was the first-ever women’s marathon champion. Billy Swift pitched for the U.S. baseball team that year. And Holly Metcalf took home a Gold medal in women’s rowing.

Now you have a whole month of reasons to celebrate, be silly, learn more about some new (obscure) topics, and engage with history. And along the way, perhaps you can come up with a special appreciation for lonely July 16. That’s the only blank day on the list.

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