The Month of October 2020: Holidays, Fun Facts, Folklore

Everything You Need to Know about October

September 21, 2020
Month of October, Fall Days

In October, autumn comes 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 Harvest and Hunter’s Moons, folklore, and more!

The Month 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.

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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 Dates

  • October 9 is Leif Eriksson Day. Who was Leif Eriksson and why was he important?
  • October 12 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.), 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 as an alternative to Columbus 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 period 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 across the world.
  • 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. 16: National Fossil Day
Oct: 24–Nov. 11: World Origami Days
Oct. 25: Frankenstein Friday

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Holiday Traditions Around the World

Chinese Moon Festival: October 1, 2020

Also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, this holiday has been celebrated for at least 3,000 years and is said to be the second largest festival in China after the Chinese New Year. Observed on the 15th day of the eighth month of the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, it can occur in either September or early October in the Gregorian calendar; in 2020, it arrives on October 1. 

This autumn festival falls during the full Moon nearest the fall equinox, which is traditionally said to be the brightest and roundest. Local festivities might involve brightly colored lanterns, dances, games, and other entertainments. Families and friends celebrate into the evening to give thanks for the harvest and for being together, offering each other wishes for happiness and long life and remembering loved ones who live far away. 

Celebrants may make offerings to the Moon goddess Chang’e or share traditional mooncakes by moonlight. These round pastries, which symbolize the full Moon and reunion, are often filled with red bean or lotus seed paste surrounding a salted egg yolk in the center.

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    October Astronomy and the Moon

    October 2020 Brings Two Full Moons

    The first full Moon of fall—in this case, the Harvest Moon—will appear on Thursday, October 1. Later in the month, on Saturday, October 31 (Halloween), the second full Moon appears. This is the Hunter’s Moon, which will be special for two reasons: it’s a rare Halloween full Moon and a Blue Moon

    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 U.S. Did you know that the foliage color is trigged by the amount of daylight (not weather)?

    Contribute to our Foliage Map by making your own Foliage Report.

    Pumpkins and squash

    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):

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    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.


      Image: Calendula

      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.

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      Image: 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]

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      Reader Comments

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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.

      Please check out our Frost

      The Editors's picture

      Please check out our Frost Dates Calculator here: http://www.almanac.com/content...

      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.

      Hi Teresa, Click here to see

      The Editors's picture

      Hi Teresa, Click here to see the best days to make sauerkraut: www.almanac.com/bestdays/timetable

      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

      The Editors's picture

      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

      The Editors's picture

      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.