Welcome October! Mark the calendar with Columbus Day, the 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: The Meaning of October
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.
Calendar: 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 10 is 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.
- October 10 also 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.
- Wrapping up the month is Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve) on the 31st!
Recipes for the Season
October kicks off the fall baking season for us!
From pumpkin spice cookies to fresh apple crumble bars, we love the flavors of the harvest.
If you’re interested in growing pumpkins for next Halloween, see our Pumpkin planting page.
Review our full gardening calendar for a list of what to do in the October garden.
October’s full Moon, the Full Hunter’s Moon, occurs on the 16th, at 12:24 a.m. EDT.
Birth Flowers and Birthstone
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.
The October birthstone is the opal, which symbolizes faithfulness and confidence. Find out more about October’s birthstone.
- 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]