On the Shelf

By Paul Guffin

June: The Bug — The Month

June bugs, also known as June beetles or May bugs, get their name from the fact that they are most commonly found in North America in the month of June. They are a group of scarab beetles, related to the scarabs familiar from ancient Egyptian iconography. June bugs are found within the genus Phyllophaga, derived from the Greek phyllon (leaf) and phaga (eat), which is a literal description of the adult’s habit of feeding on plant leaves. Due to being a rich source of protein and fat, they, themselves, are often the meal of a variety of wild animals, such as skunks, raccoons, several bird species, and other insects — and, sometimes, humans. Historically, the Bear River people of northwestern California ate fire-roasted June bugs. Today, some people crush them and bake them into biscuits, sprinkle them onto salads as “croutons of the sky”, or even fill cooked larvae with cheese and wrap them in bacon.

The month when these bugs commonly appear is, as we know, the sixth month of the year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The Latin name for the month is Junius, for which there are a few competing explanations. One is that the month is named after the Roman goddess Juno, the goddess of marriage and the wife of the supreme deity Jupiter. Another is that the name comes from the Latin word iuniores, meaning “younger ones”, as opposed to maiores (“elders) for which the preceding month of May (Maius) may be named. Still another possibility is that June is named after Lucius Junius Brutus, founder of the Roman Republic.

June’s birthstones are pearl, alexandrite, and moonstone, while its birth flowers are rose and honeysuckle. In the first part of the month (up until the summer solstice) those Gemini twins can be found, but afterwards the month belongs to a crab named Cancer.

As with every month, there are celebrations and observances that take place. Here are some of June’s month-long observances:

African-American Music Appreciation Month (United States)

ALS Awareness Month (Canada)

LGBTQ+ Awareness and Pride Month

National Oceans Month (United States)

National Smile Month (United Kingdom)

PTSD Awareness Month (United States)

And now, some moveable observances during June:

First Tuesday: International Children’s Day

First Wednesday: Global Running Day & World Bicycle Day

First Friday: National Doughnut Day (United States)

First Sunday: National Cancer Survivors Day (United States)

Second Sunday: Canadian Rivers Day

Third Friday: National Flip Flop Day (United States)

Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere): International

Surfing Day & World Music Day

Third Sunday: Father’s Day (lots of countries)

Friday following Third Sunday: Take Your Dog to Work Day (United Kingdom & United States)

And, we wrap it up with some fixed observances during the month:

June 1: Global Day of Parents

June 2: International Whores’ Day

June 5: National Moonshine Day (United States) & World Environment Day

June 8: World Oceans Day

June 11: National German Chocolate Cake Day (United States)

June 12: World Day Against Child Labor

June 17: World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

June 18: Autistic Pride Day

June 19: Juneteenth (United States) & World Sauntering Day

June 20: World Refugee Day

June 21: National Indigenous Peoples Day (Canada) & World Hydrography Day

June 24: Youth Day (Ukraine)

June 28: Constitution Day (Ukraine)

In other (old) literary news from this week

Sojourner Truth delivers the “Ain’t I A Woman” speech at the Women’s Rights Convention (May 29, 1851) • Christopher Marlowe dies in a tavern brawl (maybe) (May 30, 1593) • One Hundred Years of Solitude is published in Buenos Aires (May 30, 1967) • Samuel Taylor Coleridge founds The Friend, a weekly periodical (June 1, 1807) • Paul Valéry publishes “Le Cimetière marin” (“The Graveyard by the Sea”) in the periodical Nouvelle Revue Française (June 1, 1920) • The first volume of Winston Churchill’s The Second World War (1948–1953) is published (June 1, 1948) • Robert A. Heinlein’s A Stranger in a Strange Land is published (June 1, 1961) • More than two million people join Victor Hugo’s funeral procession in Paris from the Arc de Triomphe to the Panthéon, where he is buried (June 1, 1855) • Allen Ginsberg writes his poem “Lysergic Acid” (June 2, 1959) • Raymond Carver quits drinking (June 2, 1977) • Valerie Solanas attempts to assassinate Andy Warhol (June 3, 1968) • The first Pulitzer prizes are awarded in only four categories (June 4, 1917) • E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India is published (June 4, 1924) • 22-year-old Carson McCullers’s first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, is published (June 4, 1940).

Source: lithub.com, This Week In Literary History, May 29 – June 4.

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