The Month of October 2023: Holidays, Fun Facts, Folklore

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welcome october, jack o lanterns and leaves
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Sam Jones/Vaughn Communications

Everything You Need to Know about October!

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In October, autumn comes into full swing. Let’s get in the fall mood! Learn why this month is called October, which holidays to look out for, what to do in the garden, what to bake in the kitchen, when to see the full Hunter’s Moon, and more!

The Month of October

This month’s name stems 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 despite the fact that 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 despite its name.

dogs wearing ghost costumes with a jack o lantern in front of them

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)

October Calendar

  • October 9 is Leif Eriksson Day. Who was Leif Eriksson, and why was he important?
  • October 9 is a busy day, with three more 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.), a federal holiday, 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, often alongside or in lieu of Columbus Day. Read more about Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
  • October 18 is St. Luke’s Little Summer. This is a date steeped in folklore. Traditionally, around Saint Luke’s feast day, there is a brief period of calm, dry weather. Learn more.
  • October 24 is United Nations Day, which aims to bring awareness to the work of the United Nations worldwide.
  • 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 about the origin of Halloween.

“Just for Fun” Dates in October

Oct. 4: International Ships-in-Bottles Day
Oct. 6: National Noodle Day
Oct. 12: National Fossil Day
Oct: 24–Nov. 11: World Origami Days
Oct. 28: Frankenstein Friday

cat in front of a full moon

October Astronomy and the Moon

October is a great time for stargazing. Check out our October Night Sky Map to discover which constellations you can spot this month.

The Full Hunter’s Moon

October’s full Moon, known as the Hunter’s Moon, arrives on Saturday, October 28. Like September’s Harvest Moon, the Hunter’s Moon is closely tied to the autumnal equinox. Learn more about October’s full Moon!

→ Find out when the Moon will be visible in your area: Moon Rise and Set Calculator.

October Meteor Showers

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.

The Leaves They Are a-Changin’

With the autumnal equinox in late September, foliage season has officially begun across much of the United States. Check out our foliage map to see when different parts of the country typically reach their peak!

Why do leaves change colors? Did you know that fall’s vivid colors are actually hidden underneath summer’s green? The main reason for the color change is not autumn’s chilly weather, but light—or rather, the lack of it. The green color of leaves disappears when photosynthesis (from sunlight) slows down, and the chlorophyll breaks down. Trees with a lot of direct sunlight will produce red leaves, while other trees may turn yellow, orange, or brown.

Read more about why leaves change color.

Pumpkins and squash and gourds

October Gardening

October is all about ending the harvest and storing your crops. 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. Do these tasks soon if you haven’t yet!

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

Everyday Advice

Find much more advice and facts about our favorite orange vegetable (no offense, carrots):

a section of fall recipes

Favorite Fall Recipes

With October’s harvest and cooler temperatures, we kick off the fall baking season! Let’s get in the mood:

Find all of our Favorite Fall Recipes including dinner dishes, soups, desserts, and more

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

orange Calendula flowers

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 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.

a field of yellow, orange, and pink cosmos flowers
Cosmos flowers


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.

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

Joke of the Month

Q. What is a pumpkin’s favorite sport?

A. Squash!

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]
About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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