Onward into October

In the northern hemisphere October is the second of the autumn months. In the southern hemisphere it is a spring month, the seasonal equivalent of April in the north. The month has 31 days and is the tenth of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, although it kept its original name from the Roman calendar in which ‘octo’ means “eight” in Latin.

Among the Anglo Saxons, October was known as Wintirfilleth, Wintirfylleth or Winterfilled meaning winter full  or winter fulfilling. According to Bede, the word meant ‘winter full moon’, the first full moon of October, after which winter was supposed to begin. This idea stems from a time when the pagan Anglo Saxons believed the year was divided into two seasons, just summer and winter.

As winter did not actually start at that time, it has also been suggested that the full moon was simply a signal that winter was on its way, and a warning to people to start preparations for harsh weather ahead. Among several other tasks this could involve food preservation, the housing of livestock in byres and barns, and strengthening homes e.g. repairing thatched roofs, doors and window shutters.

The October birth flower is the calendula and the birthstone is the opal. It is said that the opal will crack if it is worn by someone who was not born in October.

The  October Zodiac signs are Libra (Sept 23 – Oct 22) and Scorpio (Oct 23 – Nov 21)

There are several historical anniversaries in the month of October in the UK. I imagine few are known, let alone ‘celebrated’ but here are some of them anyway:

  • 2nd Oct 1452:  Britain’s last Plantagenet king, Richard III was born.

Richard III painted in 1520, Author unknown. Uploaded to Wikipedia by Silverwhistle. Public Domain

  •  6th Oct 1892: Death of the English Poet Laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who immortalised ‘The Six Hundred’ in his poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1862. Photograther: Oscar Gustave Rejlander (1813-1873). Public Domain

  • 7th Oct 1920: Women became eligible for admission as full members of Oxford University and given the right to take degrees.
  • 4th Oct 1066: Harold II, England’s last Anglo-Saxon King was killed at the Battle of Hastings in Sussex – possibly by an arrow in the eye as shown in the Bayeux Tapestry.

“Here sits the King of the English” . Harold II ‘s coronation 1066. Author: Norman and English embroiderers. Public Domain

  • 20th Oct 1632: Birth of English architect Christopher Wren who was responsible for the rebuilding of St. Paul’s Cathedral following the Great Fire of London..

Christopher Wren’s Cathedral, as built. Public Domain

  • 24th Oct 1537: Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour, died following the birth of the future king Edward VI.

Jane Seymour, Queen of England. Date 1536.Artist: Hans Holbein Public Domain

  • 28th Oct 1831: English physicist Michael Faraday demonstrated the dynamo, founding the science of electro-magneticism.
  • 29th Oct 1618: English courtier, writer and explorer Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded on the orders of King James I.

Sir Walter Raleigh’s first pipe in England. Author: Frederick William Fairholt (1814-1866)

There are a number of Special Events celebrated worldwide in October. The most well known one to many of us is probably HALLOWEEN. Here is just a little about the history of the event and its traditions:

Halloween or Hallowe’en  is a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening. It is also known as All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve and is a celebration observed in a number of countries on October 31st.

Many Halloween traditions originated from the Celtic harvest festival of Samhain, meaning ‘Summer’s End’, which was celebrated at the end of the harvest season. Samhain was a time to take stock of supplies, prepare for winter and to ask the priests to pray for families as they faced the dark days of winter ahead. They believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the dead would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.

Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits, or appease them.

The origins of trick or treating and dressing up were in the 16th century in Ireland, Scotland and Wales where people went door-to-door in costume asking for food in exchange for a poem or song. Many dressed up as souls of the dead and were understood to be protecting themselves from the spirits by impersonating them. This festival was later Christianised as Halloween.

Halloween activities today include trick or treating, attending Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into Jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, playing pranks – to name just a few.  In many parts of the world the Christian religious observances of All Hallows’ Eve include attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead. Some Christians historically abstained from meat on All Hallows’ Eve. This tradition can still be seen today in the eating of certain vegetarian foods, including apples, potato pancakes and soul cakes.

In Munich (Germany) the big October attraction is OKTOBERFEST!

This festival claims to be the world’s biggest folk festival as well as being a great time to enjoy drinking beer. Over the last ten years or so the festival has attracted around six million visitors every year. Between them, visitors get through almost seven million litres of beer and consume thousands of grilled sausages, chickens, giant pretzels,  and even wild oxen. The festival lasts just over two weeks (often from mid-September to early October) and takes place in a meadow outside Munich’s city centre. Besides eating, drinking and dancing, visitors can enjoy parades and fairground rides, and admire the many people dressed in traditional Bavarian clothes.

The history of this festival dates from the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen in 1810. Celebrations involved shooting displays and horse-racing – as well as much eating and drinking. Such a fun time was had by one and all it was decided to repeat the event every year.

This post has now become far too long to add photos of our gardens and local lanes, so I’ll finish with just a few of the many photos we took around the grounds of Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire last week. The autumn colours were a delight (although the red oak in the last photo is not a species native to Britain and was ‘imported’ from North America).

Refs:
Wikipedia:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October
timeanddate,com https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/months/october.html
Historic UK http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofBritain/Historic-October/
Images are either my own photos or from Shutterstock, Pixabay or Wikipedia. Those from Wikipedia are credited as such.

About milliethom

I am a reader and writer of historical fiction with a keen interest in the Earth's history and all it involves, both physically and socially. I like nothing better than to be outdoors, especially in faraway places, and baking is something I do when my eyes need respite from my computer screen.
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45 Responses to Onward into October

  1. Jeanne says:

    Love this historical post, Millie. The Halloween of Today gets such a bad rap here in the US…too bad, it was always one of my favorites…Fall Festivals are pleasant enough, just not quite the same. 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Halloween in the UK has followed in the footsteps of the US in recent years, Jeanne. Despite it being celebrated in past centuries, when I was young it was hardly remembered, other than by groups of Druids and such like. Carving pumpkins has become more popular over the years, as have the parties, trick-or-treating and dressing up etc. Oddly enough, Halloween has become more popular than Bonfire Night here, which has always been held on November 5th. The safety issues of fireworks have caused concern there, so few families now have fireworks and bonfires in their own gardens.
      Well, I’ve digressed there – but thank you so much for your nice comment, Jeanne. Hopre your Halloween is a fun one. 😀

  2. leggypeggy says:

    Excellent post about October. It’s a big month in my family with three birthdays approaching.

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Peggy. It’s funny how many families I know with lots of birthdays in October, including ours. Two of our children were born in October, one of them on our 9th wedding anniversary, October 24th (47th anniversary this year!) I hope your family members have great birthdays and enjoy your lovely spring weather. I’ll be playing catch up again over the next few days.

  3. arv! says:

    What a beautiful compilation on the month of October.

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks Arv. I love doing these monthly posts, although they’re very time consuming to put together. There’s so much information about each month, it can be difficult to know what to include or leave out. I’ve done six of the months now – so another six to go!

      • arv! says:

        Millie! These are excellent posts. I know it takes time. finding info..pictures and compiling requires tons of work!

      • milliethom says:

        I know you must spend hours on yours, too, Arv. You put a lot of information into many of your posts about the fabulous sites around Jaipur. I’m looking forward to catching up on posts I’ve missed while I’ve been writing my book. It isn’t finished yet, so I’ll be absent again for a while once I’ve had a good read on WP.
        Lovely to see you here again, anyway.

      • arv! says:

        You got it right, Millie! It takes hell lot of time! I don’t publish until I’m sure that things are in place..
        Don’t worry..posts are right there…whenever you are free you can come back and read them. Which book are you working on?

      • milliethom says:

        I hope to pop over to your blog as soon as we get back from Lincoln this afternoon. The Roman Army is at the castle (well, Roman reenactors, at least 🙂 ) so we’re going to have a look. I’m trying hard to finish the third book of my Viking trilogy, Arv. I should have finished it months ago, so I really must abandon other things for a while. Blogging takes a lot of my time when I get into it. At one time I was doing 5 posts a week – far too many for me! I’m down to a couple a month at present. That’s manageable. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. 😀

      • arv! says:

        Thanks Millie, for taking out time and reading posts. Appreciate that since you are super occupied now. I also find that doing 6-8 posts a month also takes lot of time. 4 is easy but anything beyond that takes time unless it is just a picture and few lines. Happy to hear about your new book, Millie! All the best 🙂

  4. DG MARYOGA says:

    Expansive references to the month of October,interesting article in all respects,Millie.Anglo Saxons’ belief is ascertained in my country;we haven’t seen autumn’s face yet.Enjoy the rest of the month 🙂

  5. anroworld says:

    Awesome post, dear Millie! “October had tremendous possibility. The summer’s oppressive heat was a distant memory, and the golden leaves promised a world full of beautiful adventures. They made me believe in miracles.”

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you, Ann. I know how much you love the changing countryside and I’m looking forward to reading your latest posts. I’ve missed your wonderful photos and videos. (I’ll be doing some catching up on people’s posts over the next few days.)
      October is such a beautiful month and gives us all a boost before winter sets in.

  6. Impressive research has gone into this, Millie. I must tell my Mum that she shares her birthday with Richard III 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Derrick. It takes a while to put these posts together but I really enjoy doing them. The history aspect is always so interesting. I’ve done 6 of the 12 months now, so I can’t stop until I’ve done them all. 🙂
      As for your mum… if she’s a fan of Richard III she’ll probably be pleased. On the other hand, if she’s a Lancashire lass like me, she may not be. (My husband’s a Yorkshireman, you see, so I have to keep the Wars of the Roses going! 😀 )

  7. I love this post! So much great information!

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks Charlie (or is it Speedy?). October is such a gloriously colourful month and I can only agree with Anne of Green Gables in the quote above. The history behind the events, traditions and dates of every month fascinate me. I have six more ‘months’ to do now to finish off the year. (I started in May, when I first got the idea.) 😀

      • No just Charlie is fine ☺️ I love the idea! I definitely can’t wait for next months post and will be looking back all the way to May! October is my favourite month, there’s something about it that feels cosy and the excitement for Christmas starts emerging 😁 x

      • milliethom says:

        Yes, it’s the big countdown to Christmas from now on, so better start saving the pennies. 😉 Once the clocks go back at the end of the month, it will seem like winter’s arrived, too. I love all the seasons, but I don’t enjoy the really short days. I’d prefer a little more daylight!

      • I know what you mean, it’s hard to get up and motivated when it’s dark mornings too. It always seems strange going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark! At least all the Christmas lights will be about soon and everywhere more festive!

  8. Joy Pixley says:

    Another fun-filed post, Millie. Which reminds me that I’m missing Oktoberfest this year, again. We have a great option not too far away, but I just can’t get the friends together to go to it. Which is probably fine, given how busy I am this week. Somehow I managed to drink beer anyway, ha ha! Since moving to southern CA, I really miss the fall colors of Michigan and New York. We have some trees that turn colors here, but it’s almost random, and most stay green, so you don’t get the full effect. Enjoy the beautiful full effect!

  9. draliman says:

    I went to the Oktoberfest in Stuttgart when I lived there. That was fun! I’m getting fed up with October this year, It’s like it never going to stop raining 😦

    • milliethom says:

      I know exactly what you mean about the rain, although this past week hasn’t been too bad here. It’s really windy today, though.
      How great that you went to Oktoberfest. It looks wonderful and I love Bavarian dress. I’d give the beer a miss though. They have some great festivals and markets in Germany. 🙂

  10. milliethom says:

    I didn’t know you celebrated Oktoberfest in the U.S. too, Joy, so I’m glad you mentioned that. Is it something taken to the U.S. by German settlers? The same spelling suggests it is, but I may be wrong. Yes, October is always lovely, although we don’t get quite the same dramatic effect in the UK as you get in many parts of North America. We don’t have too many native trees which go red, for a start, so our autumns tend to be yellowy, golden brown ones, rather than the vibrant red. The grounds of stately homes, and parks often have imported species like red oak or maple, and it makes a huge difference. I can understand how you miss the colours of further north.
    Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed your beer. I’d love to get to Germany at some stage to see this event for myself (as long as I can have wine instead of beer!)

  11. inesephoto says:

    Love your monthly posts, Millie. There is always something I didn’t know before. October is the last lovely month before the rainy and sleety November starts – no ones favorite, I guess 🙂
    Red oak looks spectacular. Two hurricanes stripped Ireland from all the beautiful foliage. I didn’t have a chance to write an autumn-themed blog this year 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Inese. I saw on TV how badly Ireland was hit by the hurricanes, particularly in the SW. I was so sorry to hear about it all and hope most of the damage isn’t permanent. Trees will come into leaf again next year. Could you reblog an autumn post from another year, perhaps?
      November is probably my least favourite month of the year. Apart from the weather getting colder, the nights get dark so early and days are so short. December never seems as bad because of all the preparations for Christmas, and town centres are all lit up. Somehow that manages to disguise the bleak weather and short days.

      • inesephoto says:

        Millie, yes, the damage was massive and some people still have no electricity. The fallen trees were removed from the roads, but not from elsewhere. Today I had a chance to take a picture of a particular building but couldn’t get an access because of the huge ancient tree blocking the driveway.

      • milliethom says:

        I saw the fallen trees on the roads on and I know electricity supplies are often damaged in high winds, let alone what you got. I imagine Waterford was badly hit, too. It will all take tine (and money) to put right. I do feel for you all. Thanks for the update, Inese.

      • inesephoto says:

        People lost lives, it is tragic. Hope there are no more hurricanes this year.

      • milliethom says:

        I know many people will be praying for that. Trees down can be dealt with after a while but lost lives affect loved ones for a long, long time.

  12. Love the post, so interesting 🙂

  13. So much interesting information here and really enjoy the pictures as well as the narrative, milliethom.

  14. Norma says:

    I just love Octobers as they are lovely and tell that winter is about to come.
    What a lovely post Millie! 😀
    Congratulations on your 24th anniversary and all the best wishes to you and your husband. 😀 I just saw in the comments mentioned as I was scrolling down.

  15. milliethom says:

    Thank you Norma. Octobers are so beautiful and that quote from Anne of Green Gables is one of my favourite quotes. We are still away from home, having taken a break for a few days to enjoy our anniversary. We’ve been married for 47 years this year, not 24. It won’t be too long until we reach our 50th anniversary, which is quite a big one to celebrate. Thank you for your kind wishes. 😀

  16. irinadim says:

    What a beautiful post, rich in history and customs, and wonderful photos! Thanks for putting it all together for us to enjoy. 🙂

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