The Month of October 2017: Holidays, Fun Facts, Folklore

Pumpkins - Bright Orange
Pixabay

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)

Calendar

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.

jack-o-lanterns halloween

October Holidays

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.

Pumpkin spice cookies

Recipes for the Season

October kicks off the fall baking season for us:

Check out our favorite Fall Recipes and Pumpkin Recipes for more fall flavors! 

Preparing for Halloween? See Halloween Recipes, Treats, and Crafts.

Pumpkins and squash

Gardening

October is all about storage. See our tips on storing vegetables, fruits, and herbs

Do you have a root cellar? Here are a few helpful root cellar storage tips.

If you’re interested in growing pumpkins for next Halloween, see our Pumpkins Growing Guide

Fall is the best time to plant garlic and bulbs for spring flowers.

Review our list of Monthly Gardening Tasks to see what garden work should be done in October in your area.

Everyday Advice

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)

Full moon over mountain

Astronomy

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.

Opal from Australia. Photo by Hannes Grube/Wikimedia Commons.
An opal found in Australia. Photo by Hannes Grube/Wikimedia Commons.

October Birthstone

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.

Ucluelet Brynnor Mines

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.

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When is first frost day for

When is first frost day for Dayton ohio? I want to save as many of my vegetable plants in pots as possible by bringing them inside my Sunroom.

When is the signs in the

When is the signs in the HEAD? I want to make saur kraut when the signs are in the head. But can't find a calendar showing the dates with the signs.

Finishing a community

Finishing a community development project...when are the best days to lay
gravel in October. My mother-in-law always told me to lay gravel by the moon. Please help with advice.
Thank you.

Some people traditionally lay

Some people traditionally lay gravel during the light of the Moon, when it is waxing or increasing in light. This is between the new and full phases. So in October, a good time to lay gravel according to this criteria would be Oct 1-8 and 23-31.
Sept. 24 EDT/Sept. 23 PDT = New Moon
October 8 = Full Moon
October 23 = New Moon
November 6 = Full Moon

Halloween video not working.

Halloween video not working. bummer

Just tried it. It worked for

Just tried it. It worked for me.

I live in upstate South

I live in upstate South Carolina. When is best fall dates/days to plant trees?

In the South, you can plant

In the South, you can plant containerized trees all year. But the best time to plant any tree, whether in a container, bare rooted, or balled-and-burlapped, is after it has gone dormant in fall because it is less stressful for the plant. (For deciduous trees, a sign that the plant has gone dormant is when it has lost all of its leaves in autumn.)

I need to have a tooth pulled

I need to have a tooth pulled and I want to know when the sign are below the bowels. Maybe I should say whenthe best time to have it pulled.