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Datebook: What's Happening in July and August—and Why It Matters

From the Twelfth Annual World UFO Day to the Running of the Bulls, events you should be aware of.
Ready for summer. (PHOTO: CREATIVE COMMONS)

Ready for summer. (PHOTO: CREATIVE COMMONS)

Croatia Joins the European Union
The former Yugoslav republic’s efforts to join the economic club were thwarted for years, in part because of its slow progress in compensating ethnic Serbs victimized in the 1991-1995 civil war.

Twelfth Annual World UFO Day
Extraterrestrial aficionados from Idaho to Nigeria will “celebrate the existence of UFOs” and “encourage governments to declassify their knowledge about sightings,” according to the holiday’s official website. Turnout may be bigger than you’d think. Surveys consistently show that large numbers of Americans believe in extraterrestrials. A National Geographic poll last year found that 36 percent of respondents believe that UFOs are real. That poll might help explain President Obama’s reelection: 65 percent thought he’d be a better leader than Mitt Romney in the face of an alien invasion.

Independence Day
Fireworks may be fun for you, but they can panic your pets. More animals get lost on the Fourth of July than on any other day of the year, warns the ASPCA. According to PetAmberAlert, a pet-finding company, the most common runaways that turn up in pet shelters are Labrador retrievers, Persian cats, and parrots.

JULY 6-14
The Running of the Bulls
The Running of the Bulls is probably the most famous event at Spain’s festival of San Fermín, celebrated since at least the Middle Ages in the city of Pamplona, but the nine-day fiesta also features lots of bullfighting. Spaniards, however, are losing their taste for the ancient blood sport. In 1977, 45 percent of Spaniards were interested in bullfighting, according to pollsters IG-Investiga; by 2008 that number had dropped to 31 percent.

Muslims at prayer during Ramadan in Indonesia's Bajra Sandhi monument and park. (PHOTO: CREATIVE COMMONS)


The First day of Ramadan
First day of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting observed by hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide. According to a recent study of religious Muslims in Britain conducted by University of London researchers, observers of Ramadan lose on average about 2.2 pounds during the month, but quickly regain the weight.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Day one of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the self-proclaimed world’s largest arts celebration, held annually in Scotland's capital city. According to Britain’s Guardian newspaper, although women make up 68 percent of the audience at the United Kingdom’s top 10 theaters, they comprise only 24 percent of directors and 38 percent of actors.

AUGUST 10-17
Elvis Week
Tens of thousands of true believers and Elvis impersonators from around the world will flock to Memphis, Tennessee, to commemorate the King. Though he’s been dead for 35 years, Elvis’s music and image generated $55 million last year, according to Forbes—less than the equally-dead Michael Jackson, but tied with the substantially more alive Justin Bieber.

Fiftieth Anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” Speech
An estimated 250,000 demonstrators heard the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic oration in Washington, D.C. At the time of President Obama’s inauguration in 2009, 65 percent of African Americans and 52 percent of white Americans polled by The Washington Post believed King’s vision had come to fruition. By 2011, those numbers had dropped to 36 percent and 30 percent, respectively.