In October 2019, autumn will come into full swing. Let’s get in the mood! Learn why it’s called October, what’s happening this month, October gardening tasks, the fall baking season, the full Hunter’s Moon, folklore, and more!
The Meaning of October
This month’s name came from the Latin octo, “eight,” because this was the eighth month of the early Roman calendar. When the Romans converted to a 12-month calendar, the name October stuck, even though it’s now the 10th month! Learn more about the origins of month names.
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.
October Holiday Happenings
October glows on every cheek,
October shines in every eye,
While up the hill and down the dale
Her crimson banners fly.
–Elaine Goodale Eastman (1863–1953)
- Tuesday, October 8. Yom Kippur begins at sundown.
Monday, October 9, is Leif Eriksson Day. Who was Leif Eriksson and why was he important?
Monday, October 14, is a busy day, with three holidays packed into it:
- Canadian Thanksgiving. This holiday shares many similarities with its American equivalent. However, there are a number of things that set the Canadian Thanksgiving apart!
- Columbus Day (U.S.) is 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. Read more about Columbus Day.
- Indigenous Peoples’ Day (U.S.)—a holiday that celebrates the history and cultures of indigenous peoples native to what is today the United States. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is celebrated in cities and states across the country.
Friday, October, 18, is St. Luke’s Little Summer. This is a date stepped in folklore. Traditionally, around Saint Luke’s feast day, there is a period brief period of calm, dry weather. Learn more.
Thursday, October 24, is United Nations Day, which aims to bring awareness to the work of the United Nations across the world.
Thursday, October 31, is Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve)! Do you know the true history of Halloween? It’s not as frightful as you might think… Learn the origin of “All Hallow’s Eve.”
- Thursday, October 31, also begins Mercury Retrograde. It’s said intuition is high during this time, so keep your third eye open for spirits and the like on Halloween night! Find out more about Mercury retrograde.
Wacky Days in October
Oct. 4: International Ships-in-Bottles Day
Oct. 6: National Noodle Day
Oct. 16: National Fossil Day
Oct: 24–Nov. 11: World Origami Days
Oct. 25: Frankenstein Friday
Astronomy and the Moon
The Leaves They Are a-Changin’
With the autumnal equinox in late September, foliage season has officially begun across much of the U.S. Did you know that the foliage color is trigged by the amount of daylight (not weather)?
Check out our Fall Foliage Forecast to see when peak foliage will reach America’s leaf-peeping hotspots.
And don’t forget to contribute to our 2019 Foliage Map by making your own Foliage Report.
The Full Hunter’s Moon – Sunday, October 13
The first full Moon of fall will appear on Sunday, October 13, reaching peak fullness at 5:08 p.m. EDT (though it won’t be visible until a little later, just after sunset). The Hunter’s Moon is one of only two full Moon names that isn’t tied to a specific month. Instead, the Hunter’s Moon always directly follows the Harvest Moon, which means that it can occur in either October or November. Learn more about the Full Hunter’s Moon,
Find out when the full Moon will be visible in your area on our Moon Rise and Set Calculator.
Also keep an eye out for the Draconid meteor shower in the late evening of October 9, and the Orionid meteor shower in the predawn hours of October 21–22. See our Meteor Shower Calendar for more information.
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 October Gardening Tasks to see what garden work should be done in October in your area.
Find much more 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)
Favorite Fall Recipes
With October’s harvest and cooler temperatures, we kick off the fall baking season! Let’s get in the mood:
- Blue Ribbon Pumpkin Pie
- Pumpkin Spice Cookies
- Fresh Apple Crumble Bars
- Apple Cider Bread or Muffins
- Pumpkin Spice Mix
Preparing for Halloween? See Halloween Recipes, Treats, and Crafts.
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.
Image: Cosmos flowers
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.
An opal found in Australia. Photo by Hannes Grube/Wikimedia Commons.
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.
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]