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The Month of November: holidays, fun facts and folklore

9 min read

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch-hazel wither…

–Robert Frost (1874-1963)

What’s happening in November? Learn what this month brings, from weather forecasts to folklore!

November, the 11th month of the year, has 30 days and marks the beginning of the winter season for most folks, even if the winter solstice doesn’t occur until late December.

In ancient times few people find November pleasant. The Anglo-Saxons called it ‘Wind monath’, because it was the time when the cold winds began to blow, but they also called it ‘Blod monath’, because it was the time when carnival charactercattle were slaughtered for winter food.
The poet T.S. Elliot called it “Sombre November”.
Sir Walter Scott, in his long poem Marmion, wrote in 1808:

November’s sky is chill and drear,
November’s leaf is red and sear (withered)

In any case, the first week of November has always been a time of festivals and celebrations marking the end of the harvest and beginning of Winter.
On modern time people made this month, named for the ninth (novem) month in the early Roman calendar, into a social time of community suppers, feasts of thanksgiving, and general elections.

November 1 is All Saints’ Day.
This is the day when all the saints are honored, especially those who do not have a day of their own. It’s also a family day to honor the memory of family members, visiting the graves of deceased relatives and lighting candles in remembrance. The Christian church often observes All Saints’ Day with a reading of the Beatitudes. Among the eight blessings, the best known may be: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
When the Roman Empire spread across Celt-occupied lands in the 1st century A.D., the Romans incorporated many of the Celtic traditions, including Samhain, from which the holiday Halloween developed. Around 800 years later, the Roman Catholic Church further modified Samhain, designating November 1 as All Saints’ Day. As All Saints’ Day was formerly known as All Hallowmas, the evening, or e’en” before the feast became popularly known as “All Hallow’s Even” or even shorter, “Hallowe’en”. (Hallow meaning to sanctify or make holy. Saints or holy people are called “hallowed.”)
All Saints’ Day is observed in Latin America as part of the Day of the Dead celebrations.

November 2 is also All Souls’ Day.
On this day the Roman Catholic Church remembers all those who have died, not just the great and the good, but really everyone. Families visit graves with bunches of flowers and in church the names of the dead may be read out on request.
According to tradition, a pilgrim returning from the Holy Land took refuge on a rocky island during a storm. There he met a hermit, who told him that among the cliffs was an opening to the infernal regions through which flames ascended, and where the groans of the tormented were distinctly audible. The pilgrim told Odilo, Abbot of Cluny, who appointed the following day (2 November 998) to be set apart literally for “all the dead who have existed from the beginning of the world to the end of time”.
The day purposely follows All Saints’ Day in order to shift the focus from those in heaven to those in purgatory.
It was believed that All Souls’ night when the dead revisited their homes, so lit candles were left out to guide them and meals and wine were left as refreshment.

But the so-called “Day of the Dead” is celebrated all over the world. Read some fascinating facts you probably don’t know about this day.

November 4 is Sadie Hawkins Day, an American folk event and pseudo-holiday originated by Al Capp’s classic hillbilly comic strip Li’l Abner (1934–1978). This inspired real-world Sadie Hawkins events, the premise of which is that women ask men for a date or dancing.
But it is also Will Rogers Day.
A great American humorist, he was born on November 4, 1879 in the Cooweescoowee District of the Cherokee Nation, in modern Oklahoma.
Starting life on a large ranch in Indian territory, he was part Cherokee.
He was taught by a former slave how to use a lasso as a tool to work Texas longhorn cattle, and he became a rope-tricking cowboy but also all-around entertainer, and his rope tricks eventually led to a career on Broadway and in the movies.
He later became a popular broadcaster and syndicated newspaper columnist, but died in a plane crash in Point Barrow, Alaska, on August 15, 1935. Will Rogers had a folksy persona and some of his best quotes are still timeless. Here’s a few that you should enjoy:
• I don’t make jokes, I just watch the government and report the facts.
• Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
• We can’t all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud when they go by.
• Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

November 12 is Diwali, an annual festival of lights celebrating the triumph of good over evil.

The 4th November is also called Mischief Night.
In England this was the night when all sorts of naughty things were done – the main idea being to put things in the wrong place.
In north-east Derbyshire and south Yorkshire villages, children would engage in a bout of Jolly Minering. A local variant on Penny for a Guy traditions, the aim was to raise money for sweets and fireworks.

Bonfire Night, on November 5, is the most widespread and flourishing of all British customs. The day was declared a holiday by decree of Parliament after Parliament was saved from being blown up by Guy Fawkes in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Until 1859, all parish churches were required to hold services this day. Unlike today, celebrations were heard throughout the day, with bells ringing, cannons firing and beer flowing.
Today, as in for the last 400 years, effigies of the pope and often Guy Fawkes or other ‘hated’ figures, are burned on top of large bonfires. Read more here.

November 5 in Shebbear, Devon, England there is a curious custom, Turning the Devil’s Boulder.
After nightfall, men carrying crowbars with women lighting their way, approach the huge stone close to the village church. As the church bells peal out the villagers set to work to turn the stone over. Apparently the devil lives under the stone, and ‘turning the Devil’s boulder’ is meant to avert bad fortune.
One legend recalls that the stone was quarried on the other side of the River Torridge at a nearby village, apparently intended as a foundation stone for a church there. But the devil rolled it away to Shebbear – and continued doing this every night as the villagers repeatedly rolled it back during the day.
Interestingly the stone is not of a type found locally and may therefore have been transported there in ancient times for some ritualistic purpose.

November 7 is Election Day, in U.S. Don’t forget to vote in state and federal elections! Every vote counts.

November 11 is Veterans Day (U.S.) and Remembrance Day (Canada).
If you’re fortunate, you may experience an “Indian Summer” in November; but according to the traditional definition, it can only occur between November 11 and 20! In parts of Europe, a similar phenomenon is known as an “Old Wives’ Summer” or “St. Martin’s Summer”.
November 19 is Discovery of Puerto Rico Day.
November 23 is Thanksgiving Day (U.S.).

But November is also Banana Pudding Lovers Month—who knew?
Here are some more wacky celebrations to look forward to:
November 1 is National Cook for Your Pets Day, but also Vegan Day (not for me…i’m sorry!)
November 3 is Sandwich (and Jellyfish, but not together) day.
November 5 is World Run Day but also Zero Tasking Day.
November 6 is Nachos Day, while November 7 is Zero-Tasking Day and November 8 Cappuccino Day.
November 9 is Chaos Never Dies Day, but also World Quality Day and World Freedom Day.
November 13 is World Kindness Day (but also ofd socks Day)!
November 16 is National Button Day, Have a Party with your Bear Day (please don’t ask me why) and Fast Food Day.
November 17 is Home Made Bread Day, while November 19 is have a Bad Day Day.
November 20 is World Absurdity Day (!!!) and November 21 is World Hello Day.

What about Moon and astronomy?
November’s full Moon is traditionally called the Beaver Moon, as in the Colonial Era, this was the month to set one’s beaver traps before the swamps froze and beavers retired to their lodges, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs.
In 2023, November’s full Moon occurs on Monday, November 27.

According to weather folklore, a heavy November snow will last until April.
– If there’s ice in November that will bear a duck, There’ll be nothing after but sludge and muck.
– November take flail, let ships no more sail.
– If trees show buds in November, the winter will last until May.
– There is no better month in the year to cut wood than November.
– Ice in November brings mud in December.

But did you know that Autumn is the best time to prepare your yard properly for a healthy spring growth?

November’s traditional birthstone is the topaz, usually a yellow to amber color.
The ancient Greeks believed that topaz could make a wearer invisible. The gem was also thought to calm anger and balance strong emotions. A symbol of honor and strength, it was also believed to bring longevity and wisdom.
In the Middle Ages topaz was ground into a powder and mixed with wine to guarantee a good night’s sleep.
It was also thought to have healing powers—reducing fevers, relieving asthma, improving vision, and preventing premature deat
If you dream of topaz, a problem with which you have been struggling will soon be solved.
Curious enough, topaz was once the name for any yellow gem, but it is actually colorless, and impurities can turn it almost any hue, with yellow to amber being the traditional tones.
Imperial topaz, a reddish orange gem with pink undertones, is the most valuable form.

Citrine, another November birthstone, is a form of pale yellow to dark amber quartz, with its yellow tones coming from iron.
The gemstone is thought to offer the same benefits as topaz, including the ability to calm, heal, encourage prosperity, but also protect against snake venom.

November’s birth flower is the chrysanthemum, also known as simply as “mums” and can be seen in all sorts of autumn decor.
Generally, chrysanthemums represent cheerfulness, despite they are often associated with death and deceased ones especially in Italy and other part of Europe.
A red one conveys “I love you.”
White symbolizes truth or pure love.
A yellow one indicates slighted love.

The word, “chrysanthemum,” comes from the Greek prefix chrys- meaning golden and -anthemion, meaning flower. Its original colors were golden hues, though mums now come in many colors—orange, burgundy, purple, red, and others.
A native to Asia with a history that dates back to 15th century B.C., in Japan, there’s even a “Festival of Happiness” to celebrate this flower each year.
Both the Chinese and Japanese consider chrysanthemums a powerful emblem of youth, and the Chinese also believe that it prevents gray hair.
A symbol of the sun, the Japanese consider the orderly unfolding of the chrysanthemum’s petals to represent perfection.
Confucius once suggested chrysanthemums be used as an object of meditation.
It’s said that a single petal placed in the bottom of a glass of wine enhances longevity.

But November It’s also the start of cold and flu season.
Stay warm with a cozy fire….

Images from web – Google Research

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