In Scotland July is the main summer month. This is when we have the longest, sunniest and warmest days which go on long into the night. Not that it usually gets really warm, not Mediterranean style hot, for sure. But pleasantly warm and just fine for golfing, walking or whatever activity takes your fancy. So far July has been quite warm, though we have had some showers and lots of windy days. All the schools have finished by the end of June, so there are young and not so young children - ie teenagers - everywhere. With the economy in a poor shape and the pound rapidly losing value, more and more people are staying in Scotland for their summer holidays these days. So it’s even more crowded than usual. Still good for local shops and businesses.
As one of the main summer months July is full of festivals and major sporting events. For us in Scotland the main event will be the Open Championship which returns to St. Andrews once again. I have fond memories of almost all of the St. Andrews Opens going back to 1955. The most indelible moment was Seve Ballesteros’ winning birdie put in 1984. He was so emotional to have won again. This year Tiger Woods will be going for a hat-trick of Opens at St. Andrews. Is he up to it, after all he has gone through. We will know soon enough. Hope the weather stays fair.We should have a better idea about the weather on the 15th. This is St. Swithin's Day when tradition says that whatever the weather is like on St. Swithin's Day, it will continue so for the next forty days. This little rhyme explains it all.
'St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair.'
July is also the month for two of the world’s most famous and celebrated national days. The fourth of July was Independence Day in the good old USA. This commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. One of the first to get free of Britain’s imperial clutches, some of us in Scotland would like to join you soon. Anyway a belated greeting and well wishes to our American cousins and friends. Yesterday, the 14th of July was of course, the French national holiday. This commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789. Amitiés á tous les français et françaises.
There are some wonderful festivals throughout the world during July. Far too many to mention. But one that I have always wanted to visit is the Montreux Jazz Festival which is on just now from 2-17 July. This is one of the most prestigious European jazz festivals. It always seems to attract a great line up and the setting by the picturesque shores of Lake Geneva only adds to its attractions. Too late for this year, but if I start to save now who knows for next year.
Back in Scotland we have our fair share of festivals. Three are worthy of mention. T in the Park is now one of the biggest and most successful open air celebrations of popular music in the UK. The event takes place in a vacant airfield on what was Balado farm in Kinross. An added attraction for Rutherfords is that our ancestor James Rutherford was born in this part of the world, at Easter Balady in 1796. So you can combine a bit of family history with some rocking.
If traditional Celtic music is more your scene then check out The Hebridean Celtic Festival, which claims to be Scotland’s premier Celtic music festival. Runs from 14-17 July in Stornaway in Lewis, the capital of the Western Isles.
Even more local is the Dundee Blues Bonanza a free blues music festival held over 3 days, which is unique to the City of Dundee. It takes place in over 30 city centre venues, all within easy walking distance of each other. Apparently Dundee is now called the Blues Capital of Scotland, and some have claimed it is the biggest free music festival in Europe.
If you prefer something a bit more outlandish then here are a couple of unusual festivals to choose from. The World Bodypainting Festival is the biggest annual event of the body painting culture and community. The festival is the first of its kind in the world and has become the "Mecca of Bodypainting". It draws over a hundred artists and models, and thousands of visitors, from all over the world every year. It is held in Seeboden, Carinthia, Austria and this year it runs from 12-18 July. This video will give you an idea of the artistic creations from the festival.
For something really bizarre why not try the The Wife Carrying World Championships which is held annually in July 2-3 in Sonkajärvi, Finland. Here the husband has to carry his wife across a course that's over two-and-a-half football fields in length and punctuated with sand, hurdles, water obstacles, and gravel pits. Not sure that Kathleen would put up with the indignity of me trying to carry her over this course. But if you fancy a peep at what it looks like go here.
For the more religiously minded July sees two important festivals. The eight of July was the Lailat al Miraj. This is an important Muslim festival also known as the Night of Ascent. This commemorates the ascent of the Prophet Muhammad into heaven accompanied by the Angel Gabriel. He rose to heaven from the rock of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where the Dome of the Rock sanctuary now stands.
Sunday 25 July is Asalha Puja Day, which is one of the most sacred days in Buddhism. It is observed on the fifteenth day of the waxing moon of the eight lunar month (July). Asalha Puja Day is the anniversary of the day on which Lord Buddha delivered his first Sermon to his five Disciples at the Deer Park in Benares, over two thousand five hundred years ago. The day also marks the beginning of the worship of the Triple Gems, namely: the Lord Buddha, His Teachings and His Disciples.
As regards the ancestors of my branch of the Rutherford clan I have managed to discover a few important events. There were three births and one marriage. Elizabeth Laing was born on 20th July 1816 in the picturesque little East Fife village of Kilconquhar. She married a Henry Rodger and their daughter, Catherine Rodger would marry James Rutherford. This makes Elizabeth Laing one of my great, great grandmothers. On my maternal side, one of my great grandmothers, Agnes Morrison Rae was born on 21 July 1854 in Perth. Her daughter, Jessie married Henry Mohring Henderson, and they were the parents of my mother. The other birth was that of my uncle and my father’s elder brother, James Alexander Rutherford, who was born on 12 July 1906 in Calcutta, India. The marriage was between David Rutherford and Elizabeth Lily Philp, the parents of James Alexander and my father. They were married on 18 July 1905 in St. Andrews. James of course went to live and settle in America. Lily, after her travels around the Empire returned to live in St. Andrews. Though she did visit the USA in the 1930s. Here she is holding my sister Pat.
Looking more to the future, my daughter Elena’s husband, Mark was born on 15th July in St. Andrews. Happy birthday Mark. They now have two sons, Liam and Jamie, so the Rutherfords continue to expand, if not in name.
The birthstone for July is the Ruby. Most traditions seem to have settled on the ruby as the gem for July. It symbolizes devotion, integrity, courage and happiness. A pretty good combination. Here is a fine example of a ruby.
The birth flower for July is the lovely Larkspur. This is a member of the same family as the Delphinium, but is an annual flower. Larkspurs represent an open heart and ardent attachment. A purple larkspur can be found at the beginning of this post.
Happy July to everyone and I hope you all have a lovely, warm and sunny summer.