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The month of September: holidays, curiosities and folklore

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There are flowers enough in the summertime,
More flowers than I can remember—
But none with the purple, gold, and red
That dye the flowers of September!

—Mary Howitt (1799-1888)

September, in Old England, was called Haervest-monath, literally Harvest Month, as a time to gather up the rest of the harvest and prepare for the winter months.
The Anglo-Saxons called it Gerst monath (Barley month), because it was their time when they harvested barley to be made into their favourite drink – barley brew.
September’s name comes from the Latin word septem, meaning “seven” and, not by chance, this month had originally been the seventh month of the early Roman calendar.
Later, when January and February were added to the calendar it became the ninth month. When the British changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, they needed to adjust some days to get the seasons aligned with the months.
They took 11 days from the month of September jumping directly from September 3rd to the 14th. And now it’s as if the days between September 3 and 13 during 1752 never happened in British history!

The first Monday in September is Labor Day, a federal holiday in the United States celebrated to honor and recognize the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the United States. Canadians also observe it.
September 6 is also Rosh Hashanah, a Jewish holiday that marks the beginning of the new year.
September 11 is Patriot Day, held in honor and remembrance of those who died in the September 11 attacks of 2001. 2021, marked the 20th anniversary.
September 12 is Grandparents Day. Honor your grandparents on this day. And every day!
September 15 is Yom Kippur, the holiest holiday in the Jewish calendar. Also known as the Day of Atonement, Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a day-long fast and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.
September 17 is Constitution Day. This day celebrates the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, which occurred on September 17, 1787.
September 21 is recognized as the annual International Day of Peace. Observances range from a moment of silence at noon to events such as peace walks, concerts, and volunteering in the community.
September 22 marks the start of fall! 2022’s Autumnal Equinox occurs at 9:04 P.M. EDT on Thursday, September 22. On this date, there are approximately equal hours of daylight and darkness.
Traditionally September 24 was the day on which harvesting began in medieval England. As the last of the crops are gathered in, there used to be a lovely ceremony called “Calling the Mare” in which the farmers all wanted to prove that they had the best reapers, so they tried to gather in the last of their crops before the neighbouring farmer did.
The last sheaf of the harvest was used to make a rough mare shape and it was quickly sent round to any farmers who had not finished gathering his crops. It was a way of saying to the farmer that wild horses would be after his crops, if he didn’t gather them in quickly. The men would run round to the neighbouring farm, throw the mare over the hedge into the field where the other farmer was working, and they would shout ‘Mare, Mare’ and then run away.
The farmer, who received the mare, would then have to work quickly to see if he could finish before another farm did, then he would throw the mare to them.
The farmer who was last to finish had to keep the mare all year and have it on display so that everyone knew he had been the slowest farmer of that year.
September 29 is Michaelmas, an ancient Celtic “Quarter Day” which marked the end of the harvesting season and steeped in folklore.
It is the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, patron saint of the sea and maritime lands, of ships and boatmen, of horses and horsemen. He was the Angel who hurled Lucifer (the devil) down from Heaven for his treachery. Michaelmas Day is traditionally the last day of the harvest season.
The harvest season used to begin on 1 August and was called Lammas, meaning ‘loaf Mass’.
Michaelmas used to be also a popular day for the winter night curfew to begin – the first hint that winter was on the way. Curfew took the form of a tolling of the church bell, usually one strike for each of the days of the month that had passed in the current year and generally rung at 9pm.
The word curfew may derive from the French word couvre feu, meaning ‘cover fire’. Curfew was the time when household fires were supposed to be doused. The bell was tolled every night, apart from Sunday, until Shrove Tuesday.
Chertsey, England, 29 km south-west of central London, is one of the last places to still ring a Curfew bell at 8pm from Michaelmas Day to Lady Day (29th September to 25th March). Their oldest Curfew bell dates from 1380!

And if it wasn’t enough, have fun with these strange celebrations in September!
For example, September is National Happy Cat Month!
September 1 is National Tofu Day, while September 2 is National Coconut Day.
September 3 is World Beard Day, and September 7 is National Salami Day. September 8 is national hug your hound day (!!!) and September 9 Wienerschnitzel Day.
September 13 is International Chocolate Day, as well as Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day, September 18 is National Cheeseburger Day, while September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day (please don’t ask me why…). September 22 is National White Chocolate Day, and September 24 is National Punctuation Day.

September’s zodiac signs are Virgo (Aug. 23–Sept. 22) and Libra (Sept. 23–Oct. 22), while September’s full moon, the Harvest Moon, reaches peak illumination on on Saturday, September 10, at 5:58 A.M. EDT (2022). For several evenings, the moonrise comes soon after sunset. This results in an abundance of bright moonlight early in the evening, which was a traditional help to farmers and crews harvesting their summer-grown crops. Hence, it’s called the “Harvest” Moon! Read more about September’s Full Moon.

On this month the garden may be winding down, but there’s still plenty left to do!
Correct any soil deficiencies you’ve noticed: healthy soil is crucial to healthy plants.
Compost should be watered during dry periods so that it remains active.
Onions are nearly ripe when the tips of the leaves turn yellow, while fall is also the time to plant garlic.

About folklore, it is said that “heavy September rains bring drought”, but also that “September dries up ditches or breaks down bridges”.
September blow soft, till the fruit’s in the loft.
Married in September’s golden glow, smooth and serene your life will go.
If the storms of September clear off warm, the storms of the following winter will be warm.

September’s birth flowers are the aster and the morning glory.
The aster signifies powerful love, while the China aster expresses variety or afterthought in the language of flowers.
The morning glory symbolizes affection, but It can also mean coquetry, affectation, or bonds in the language of flowers.

The September birthstone is the sapphire, which was once thought to guard against evil and poisoning.
It is a form of corundum typically blue, a color caused by tiny bits of iron and titanium (the vivid, medium blues are more valuable than lighter or darker forms). Due to various trace elements, sapphires also appear in other colors, and those with red colors are called rubies.
Sapphires were thought to encourage divine wisdom and protection. They symbolized purity, truth, trust, and loyalty. Some believed that if they were placed in a jar with a snake, the snake would die.
The sapphire, along with the related ruby, are the second-hardest natural gemstones, second only to the diamond.

Originally written on September 1, 2021. Updated 2022

Images from web – Google Research