Welcome to October! The time of pumpkins, Canadian Thanksgiving, and Halloween. Learn more—and enjoy our seasonal advice.
With the month of October, autumn moves into full swing. Who doesn’t love donning a sweater for a walk in the woods, or a stroll through an apple orchard to enjoy the season’s bounty?
Listen! The wind is rising,
And the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings,
Now for October eves!
—Humbert Wolfe (1885-1940)
October was the name of the eighth month of the year in the ancient Roman calendar. In Latin, octo means eight. When the Romans converted to a 12-month calendar, the name October stuck, even though it’s now the 10th month.
The early Roman calendar, thought to have been introduced by Rome’s first king, Romulus (around 753 b.c) was a lunar calendar! This ancient timekeeping system contained these 10 months: Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Iunius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October (the eighth month), November, and December. Martius, Maius, Quintilis, and October contained 31 days, while the other months had 30, for a total of 304 days. In winter, the days were not counted for two lunar cycles.
It wasn’t until about 713 b.c. that a calendar reform, attributed to the second Roman king, Numa Pompilius, added the months Ianuarius and Februarius. Some historians think that both months were placed at the end of the year, while others believe that Ianuarius became the first month and Februarius the last. Later reforms organized the months as they are arranged today in the Gregorian calendar, whereby October became the 10th month in spite of its name.
Here are some of the holidays we mark this month:
- October 9 is Leif Eriksson Day. Who was Leif Eriksson and why should we care?
- October 9 is also Columbus Day in the U.S., which is always observed on the second Monday in October. It was on October 12, 1492, that Christopher Columbus landed on a small island in the Bahamas, convinced that he had reached Asia. Who is Columbus? Why do we celebrate this day? Read more about Columbus Day.
- Finally, October 9 brings Thanksgiving for Canadians. The first Thanksgiving Day in the Canadian Confederation was observed on April 15, 1872. In 1957, a proclamation permanently set the date to the second Monday in October (it was held on different dates in most intervening years). Celebrants give “general thanksgiving to Almighty God for the blessings with which [they] have been favored,” eat turkey, and watch football—Canadian football, of course!
- Wrapping up the month is Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve) on the 31st! Read about ancient Halloween traditions or get some pumpkin carving tips.
Recipes for the Season
October kicks off the fall baking season for us:
- Blue Ribbon Pumpkin Pie
- Pumpkin Spice Cookies
- Fresh Apple Crumble Bars
- Apple Cider Bread or Muffins
- Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice Mix
Preparing for Halloween? See Halloween Recipes, Treats, and Crafts.
October is all about storage. See our tips on storing vegetables, fruits, and herbs.
If you’re interested in growing pumpkins for next Halloween, see our Pumpkins Growing Guide.
Review our list of Monthly Gardening Tasks to see what garden work should be done in October in your area.
Check out these pages for advice and facts about our favorite orange vegetable (no offense, carrots):
How to Cook and Clean Pumpkins
Dealing with Pumpkin Sprawl (podcast)
History of Carving Halloween Pumpkins (video)
October’s Full Moon, the Full Hunter’s Moon, is especially unique this month, as it takes on the mantle of the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon typically occurs in September, but occasionally happens in early October instead. This year, October’s Full Moon occurs on October 5th, at 2:40 P.M. EDT.
Check out our monthly Sky Watch for this month’s best astronomical events.
Folklore for the Season
- When deer are in a gray coat in October, expect a hard winter.
- Much rain in October, much wind in December.
- A warm October means a cold February.
- In October dung your field, and your land its wealth shall yield.
- Good October, a good blast.
To blow the hog acorn and mast
[tree fruit upon which wild animals feed]
October Birth Flowers
October’s birth flowers are the cosmos and the calendula or marigold. Cosmos is a symbol of joy in life and love and of peace. The calendula (aka garden, English, or pot marigold) represents winning grace, grief, or chagrin in the language of flowers. Find out more about October’s birth flowers.
An opal found in Australia. Photo by Hannes Grube/Wikimedia Commons.
The October birthstone is the opal, which symbolizes faithfulness and confidence.
- Gem-quality opals are known for their play of color, caused by the diffraction of light. They are available in several types, including black, fire, and white opals. Common opals do not shimmer.
- Opals symbolize hope and purity and were once thought to improve eyesight or enhance intuition. Throughout history, the gem’s reputation has oscillated between standing for luck and standing for lack of luck. According to some, those born in October are immune from any possible negative effects.
Find out more about October’s birthstone.
This Month in History
October 6: Rainy Days
On this day in 1967, 50 years ago, 19.26 inches of rain fell in 24 hours at the weather station in Ucluelet Brynnor Mines, British Columbia—a Canadian record that still stands. This came as a surprise to no one: Situated on the west coast of Vancouver Island, in a warm, wet marine environment, the area is bounded on the north and northwest by mountains that block the moisture-filled winds off the Pacific, causing them to dump vast amounts of rain. The nearby weather station of Henderson Lake experienced the second rainiest 24-hour period (16.61 inches) and holds Canada’s records for greatest annual rainfall in 1 year (319.78 inches in 1931) and greatest average annual rainfall (256 inches).
According to geologist G.E.P. Eastwood in 1968, “in the intervals between rain, the area is frequently blanketed with fog, and the vegetation remains dripping wet for a week or more.” Under such circumstances, the undergrowth is “an almost impenetrable tangle.”
Brynnor Mines, Ltd., dug an open-pit iron mine there in 1962. The firm tried drilling for underground ore in 1963, an effort abandoned in 1967 because of “exceedingly heavy inflows of water.” All mining ended in 1968.
Dependent on furs, forestry, and fishing since European traders arrived in the late 1770s, the district of Ucluelet is now turning to adventure tourism. Bordering on the 150,000-acre Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, it offers whale watching, surfing, hiking, and “storm watching,” advising visitors to bring along their “West Coast tuxedoes” (rain jackets and pants) to prepare for 10 to 15 megastorms each winter. “Gore-Tex and gum boots are always in vogue,” tourism officials note cheerfully.