Tuesday, 30 August 2016

August - the month of life (and rot)

It's already (still, just about) August, or, as we say in Finnish, elokuu.

This month has an interesting name, for, at the first glance, it looks like it means something like “the month of life”, for the Finnish word elo means life.

And while that is certainly true, it's also one of the month names with connections to farm work. Elonkorjuu means harvest. Or to be exact, korjuu alone means harvest and elo, which can also refer to harvest-ready grain, implies how important that harvest is: this is when one harvests the grain that will keep one fed and alive during the hard winter months.

Oddly enough, this month has also been called mätäkuu, 'rot month', and people sometimes still use this expression to refer to what in English is known as the dog days of summer. According to some theories, this term originates from either the Low German term Rodendage ('dog days') or the German Rodenmonat ('kaskeamiskuu' – 'slash-and-burn month') which was mistranslated into Danish as Råddenmåned, literally 'rot month', and the same term was later adopted into Finnish. But, as it happens, weather in late summer can be hot and humid and things tend to rot easily… so the term which was initially a mistake actually makes sense!

As I have failed to take photos of harvest fields, here's an August lake view instead:


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