July Teacher Resource Guide

Symbolized by a smoldering red ruby as its birthstone, July is the peak of summer in the northern hemisphere - the time of the highest average temperatures, when the sun glares from the sky with white heat, people flock to beaches and go on vacation, and mighty thunderstorms sweep across the landscape like black-hulled ships rowed by oars of lightning. In the southern half of the planet, this is the coldest time of year - the south's equivalent of January, although most of the continents are too close to the equator to become truly chilly.

One interesting fact about July is that because of the way the calendar is arranged, the first day of July is the same day as the first day of April - so if the first day of April is a Wednesday, for example, you can be sure that the first day of July in the same year will be a Wednesday, too. If the year is a leap year (when an extra day is added to February to keep the year in sync with the Earth's actual orbit around the sun), January, April, and July will all share the same first day.

Everyone is familiar with the patriotic enthusiasm, brilliant fireworks displays, and thousands of fun local events with which the birth of American freedom on July 4th is celebrated. However, Coney Island witnesses one of the strangest Independence Day rituals with the world-famous Nathan's International July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest.

This bizarre event started in 1916 when four immigrants began arguing over who was most patriotic, and decided to settle the question not with a shouting match or a fistfight, but by stuffing themselves with hotdogs at a nearby hotdog stand, called Nathan's Famous Hotdogs. History doesn't tell us who won and was hailed as the most patriotic, unfortunately, but the hot dog contest is now an international event that attracts people from all over the world to compete.

When a Japanese citizen won the prized "mustard-yellow belt" that the winner gets, this belt was actually put on display in the Japanese Imperial Palace back in Tokyo. 2009's winner, Joey Chestnut, ate 68 hotdogs and their buns in ten minutes flat to win, to the tune of music like "Hot Dog Time!" and "Hot Dogs, Hot Dogs." To make that figure more real, just remember that it means eating a whole hotdog and bun in 9 seconds, and then starting on another one right away, for ten minutes.

July also sees another change in the weather besides the fact that it is hotter (on average) than any other month of the year in the northern hemisphere. Before the start of July, most thunderstorms in the U.S. occur west of the Mississippi River, while from the beginning of July on, more of them happen to the east of the Mississippi. There are still plenty of thunderstorms in other parts of America, but the majority of them are now found in the East. The reason for this is that as summer advances, the wind patterns shift and hot Gulf of Mexico air blows into different parts of the U.S.. However, there is one branch of that hot air that flows up into the Rocky Mountains during July, making them the second most thundery spot in North America in the year's seventh month.

From fireworks to hot dog eating contests based on four immigrants' strange idea of a patriotic deed, from fast-moving thunderstorms to one of the year's two biggest temperature differences between the north and south of the planet, July has plenty of weird stuff going on to learn about and maybe experience, to get a better idea of this strange world we live in.

Notable July Holidays, Events, and Celebrations

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