When is Juliet's birthday in Romeo and Juliet?

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Juliet's birthday is on July 31st. That date is known as Lammas Eve. August 1st is Lammas Day, which is the festival of the wheat harvest. It is the first of all the festivals of the year. The story takes place in the middle of summer, which is known as a time of new love. 

Romeo first sees Juliet at the Capulet's Ball. Romeo is a Montague and their is bad blood between the Montague's and the Capulet's. He has gone into the ball in hopes of getting over the girl he thinks he loves. It is a masquerade ball, which makes it a perfect time for him to get in the ball, since he won't "seen". 

Juliet has been told by her mother that Paris wants to marry her. Juliet has never thought about marriage, but her mother tells her that she was close to the age she is going to be, when she had Juliet. Juliet does not love Paris, but does start to think about marriage. At the ball she and Romeo come face to face. She doesn't know that he is a Montague, but the two fall instantly in love with each other. 

Juliet's age is a cause for concern for her father. He wants her to marry Paris, but he asks Paris if he could wait at least two years before marrying her. During this time period, however, young girls married young. The life span is nothing like it is now. They didn't live to be very old, so being almost 14 is considered a proper age to get married. Although Juliet is so young, she knows what she wants. She is determined to marry Romeo and be with him, no matter what the cost may be.

William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare uses the Nurse in Act 1, Scene 3 to establish Juliet's present age and her birthday. According to the Nurse:

Come Lammas Eve at night shall she be fourteen.

Lammastide, or Lammas Day, is August 1st, so Juliet will be fourteen the night before, on July 31st. According to Lady Capulet, Lammastide will arrive in

A fortnight and odd days.

So Juliet is currently thirteen years, eleven months, and approximately sixteen days old. Many people have argued whether or not she is too young to be married. Nowadays, we would certainly think that fourteen was too young, but evidently people thought differently in Shakespeare's time. They apparently didn't have the concept of "adolescence." People were either children or adults, and puberty must have been the dividing line.

In addition to establishing Juliet's age, the nurse's and Lady Capulet's information also establishes the time of year as midsummer, an excellent time for young people to fall in love and to stay up all hours of the night, seeking romance and adventure, while their elders are sound asleep and snoring.

nathangarton eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes, as above, Juliet was born on July 31. This makes her a Leo (Shakespeare's audience would have been aware of Zodiac signs). The interesting thing here is that Leo is a 'Sun' sign and Juliet, when we first meet her, is characterised by imagery of brightness. Romeo's first words when he sees Juliet are:

O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!

It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night

Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear;

Again, in the famous Balcony Scene, Romeo makes the following comments about Juliet:

The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars,

As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven

Would through the airy region stream so bright

That birds would sing and think it were not night.

Thus her birthday is quite significant in terms of Juliet's characterisation.

I hope that helps!