Did you know that before January and February were added to the Roman calendar, around 713BC, November was the ninth month of the year? This is how it got its name; novem means ‘nine’ in Latin.
As the year draws to a close, you’d be forgiven for getting excited about December and all its summery, festive glory. But November has its own special occasions, some rooted in interesting mythology and folk traditions.
The 1st November, All Saints Day, used to be called All Hallows, which is why 31st October is called Halloween (Eve of Hallow) and is a Christian holiday that celebrates and honours the saints. November 2 is All Souls Day, when the deceased are remembered and families decorate graves with flowers.
Historically, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, the first week of November marked the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter. The Anglo-Saxons called November the wind monath, when the cold winds blow, also the blod monath, for cattle were slaughtered at this time, for food to get through winter. In Australia, of course, November is mid-spring, and so we are well and truly celebrating the days as they grow warmer and longer.
November 11th is Remembrance Day, when we wear poppies and remember those who gave their lives in WWI in the line of duty. Hostilities formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. ‘At the eleventh hour’ is an expression meaning ‘at the last minute’, or ‘just in time’ and can be traced back to a quote from the King James bible.
Americans and Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November, a tradition started by Pilgrim settlers after their first harvest in 1621.
Finally, the last day of November is St Andrew’s Day. St Andrew is the patron saint not only of Scotland, but also of Greece, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Barbados. In Scotland, 30th November is a bank holiday and an official flag day, when the Saltire, ie. St Andrew’s Cross, flies on government buildings.
So wherever you are this November enjoy the change of season and most importantly happy puzzling!