Watermelon month, anyone?

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As I See It

BY ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO

Have you ever heard of July as watermelon month? Well, Wikipedia says it is!

Aside from the holidays we celebrate during the month of July, one of the most unusual celebrations we may not know is the watermelon month!

While July reminds us of important historical dates such as the 4th of July which is US Independence Day and 1st of July which is Canada Day, it also calls for the wackiest holidays we ever had! The Apollo launching also happened in July and today, July 16, is its 50th launching anniversary. Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that first landed humans on the moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin, both Americans, landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969.

Also in July, there are strange events which we celebrate and one of them is the National Watermelon Month. The first thing we can perhaps do, according to a watermelon guy (watermelon.org), is eating lots of watermelon recipes every day in various ways. After that, he said we can read some watermelon books. The most popular one is “The Watermelon Seed” by Greg Pizzoli, a children’s book and a delightful tale about a crocodile with a fear of swallowing a watermelon seed.

No one really knows when National Watermelon Day was established although some people believe it was started by watermelon farmers and others. However, biologists and botanists surely believe that the modern watermelon can be traced all the way back to a vine-like plant that grew wild in Southern Africa. It has been cultivated, according to Wikipedia, by indigenous people since at least the second Millennium BC. From that prosperous beginning, the modern watermelon spread all the way through Asia over the next thousand years, and eventually made its way into Southern Europe by the 10th century. It was then introduced to the New World via European settlers and African slaves by the 16th century.

By the 17th century, it became a common commodity throughout much of the Southern United States.

Today, watermelons are grown in almost every state in the U.S. In fact, there are only about six states where watermelons aren’t grown commercially and the states which produce the most watermelons are California, Arizona, Georgia, Texas and Florida.

Many say there is only one real way to enjoy National Watermelon Day and that is to go out to your local grocery store and buy one. After all, watermelons are not only a refreshing summer snack… they are also naturally healthy.

Okay, then we have the National Ice Cream Month which is celebrated each year in July and National Ice Cream Day is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday in July. Do you know that the celebrations were originated by a Joint resolution  in the United States Senate sponsored by Sen. Walter Dee Huddleston of Kentucky on May 17, 1984 and a Joint resolution in the United States House of Representatives sponsored by Representative Kika de la Garza of Texas on April 11, 1984? The resolutions were signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on July 9, 1984.

And… just like with other foods, the exact origin of ice cream is unknown, although its origin most likely dates back to a long time ago. Nero of Rome, for example, was said to have enjoyed harvesting ice or snow, then flavoring it with honey or other flavorings.

Alexander the Great supposedly enjoyed icy drinks that had flavorings such as honey or nectar.

Early presidents also had a liking towards ice cream, according to our old folks. In the summer of 1790, George Washington spent approximately $200 for ice cream (back then, $200 was a fairly good sum of money). Thomas Jefferson actually made his own recipe of ice cream too! Dolly Madison, the wife of President James Madison, served ice cream at the second inaugural ball. In 1843, Nancy Johnson patented the hand crank ice cream maker and about eight years later, in 1851, Jacob Fussell built the first ice cream factory. The invention of mechanical refrigeration helped keep large amounts of ice cream cool… and new inventions in technology helped ice cream spread towards the general public.

Here’s another thing, according to Wikipedia–World Emoji Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated on 17 July. The day is deemed a “global celebration of emoji” and is celebrated with emoji events. Celebrated annually since 2014, NBC reported that the day was Twitter’s top trending item on 17 July in 2015. In Facebook (FB), we use it most of the time and almost all our FB friends enjoy posting them to express their feelings.

World Emoji Day is “the brainchild of Jeremy Burge“according to CNBC which stated that the “London-based founder of Emojipedia created it in 2014. The New York Times reported that Burge created this on 17 July “based on the way the calendar emoji is shown on iPhones”.

Another unusual celebration is the National Farriers Week which honors the men and women who care for and maintain the hooves of horses.  This highly specialized trade requires skill in hoof care, blacksmithing, as well as care of injured and diseased hooves.

“Being a farrier goes far beyond normal hoof care,” says Frank Lessiter, Editor of American Farriers Journal. “We want to remind the equine community that farriers do so much more than normal trimming and shoeing, all while sacrificing their bodies and often in less than ideal circumstances.”

My research also yielded another unusual celebration in July — International Town Criers Day which celebrates the historical relevance of town criers throughout history. The day honors loud people who announce the news by using a bell and making proclamations to townspeople. Besides having a loud voice, people of standing in the community were traditionally chosen as criers.

Historically, the first town criers were the runners in the early Greek Empire. Then, as the Roman Empire spread through Europe, the position became more important. Eventually, they became officers of the court, but became dangerous because if a ruler did not like the message decreed by the town crier, he could be executed.

Later, town criers were protected by law. “Don’t shoot the messenger” was a very real command especially for criers in a region where the King was not popular. Any crime committed against the town crier was considered committed against the king… a treasonable offense.

Wikipedia also listed National Moth Week (NMW), a worldwide citizen science project to study and record populations of moths (Lepidopteran insects closely related to butterflies.)

National Moth Week was founded in the United States in 2012 by the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission, a non-profit organization in New Jersey. Since its founding, National Moth Week participation has grown to include events in all 50 U.S. states and more than 80 countries worldwide.

Then comes July 22nd which is Spooner’s Day, named after Rev. William Archibald Spooner, warden of New College, Oxford, who had the terrible habit with the ‘slip of his tongue’. He was notoriously prone to this mistake so the term “Spoonerism” was well established by 1921 and was famous for doing this.

Spoonerism, according to Wikipedia, is an error in speech in which corresponding consonants, vowels, or morphemes are switched between two words in a phrase.

An example is saying “The Lord is a shoving leopard” instead of “The Lord is a loving shepherd.” While spoonerisms are commonly heard as slips of the tongue, and getting one’s words in a tangle, they can also be used intentionally as a play on words.

Wackiest events happen in July!

(Elpidio R. Estioko was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com).

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