Navigating our way through November

November is the eleventh month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the fourth and last month to have 30 days. It was the ninth month of the ancient Roman calendar (when the year started in March) its name deriving from the Latin word ‘novem’ which means nine. In the northern hemisphere, November is the third and last of the autumn months and in the southern hemisphere it is the third and last of the spring months.

To the Anglo Saxons,  November was Windmonath  meaning Wind Month. Another name they had for it was Blotmonath meaning  ‘Blood or Sacrifice Month’. November was the time of year when many of the livestock were slaughtered and meats were preserved, often by smoking, for use during the winter. Only animals required as breeding stock were herded  into the byres until the spring.

For similar reasons the Dutch called November, Slachtmaand, or Slaughter Month; in Welsh it was Tachwedd, referring to slaughter, or the killing of animals, and in Finland it was called Marraskuu, which means the Month of the Dead.​

In Britain, November is probably the least favourite month of the year. Days have grown short and nights are long, many days are cloudy and grey and the weather is gradually turning colder. Ground frosts become more frequent as the days pass and November can often be very windy, too (hence the Anglo Saxon name). Conversely, some days can be gloriously sunny and seem too mild for November.

These little poems illustrate two sides of November weather. The second one doesn’t make the month sound completely unattractive, as does the first. (Perhaps Thomas Hood was having a bad day when he wrote his. 🙂 )

No sun – no moon! No morn – no noon –
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member –
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,
~ Thomas Hood 1799 -1845


November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.
With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.
The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.
~  Elizabeth Coatsworth

The birthstone for November is topaz . . .

. . . and the  zodiac signs are Scorpio (October 23 – November 21) and Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

The birth flower for  this month is the chrysanthemum:

These are just a few of the many famous  people who were born in November:

1. Marie Curie, French-Polish chemist and physicist who discovered radium, born November 7, 1867:

Marie Curie, Nobel Prize Portrait 1903. Author: Nobel Foundation. Public Domain

2. Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. Author of Treasure Island born November 13, 1850:

Author Robert Louis Stephenson Author: Ris-pic 1 .jpg Knox Series. Public Domain

3. French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec,  born on November 24, 1864.

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec 1894. Author: Paul Sescau 40002. Public Domain

4. Grace Darling (full name Grace Horsley Darling) was born on 24 November 1815 in Bamburgh, Northumberland. Grace was a lighthouse keeper’s daughter who, on September 7 1838, risked her life when she and her father rowed out for a mile in the height of a storm to rescue nine mariners ship-wrecked on a rock and take them back to shore. The story is now legendary.

Grace Darling. A photographic reproduction of a Public Domain work of art. by Thomas Musgrave Joy. Photograph by Thos, Musgrave. is also Public Domain. 

5. American author, Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, was born November 29, 1832:

Louisa May Alcott at the age of 20, 1857. Author Unknown. Public Domain

6. Winston Churchill, Prime Minister, was born November 30 1874.

Winston Churchill in Downing Street giving his famous Victory sign. Author: British Government. Public Domain

7. American author Mark Twain,  author of several books, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, was born November 30, 1835:

Mark Twain photo portrait. February 7, 1871. Author: Mark Brady Public Domain

8. Irish author Jonathan Swift, author of  Gulliver’s Travels, was also born on November 30, but in 1667:

Jonathan Swift dated 1710. Oil on canvas by Charles Jervas (1675-1739). Source: National Portrait Gallery. Public Domain.

And these are some of the special dates remembered in November:

A post about events celebrated in Britain in November would not be complete without a mention of Guy Fawkes’ Night, or Bonfire Night. I don’t intend to go into what the Gunpowder Plot was all about here, having written posts about it in previous years. The first, in 2014, was A Penny for the Guy, which was a simple post, mostly about the ways in which celebrations of Bonfire Night have changed over the years, particularly since I was a child. The second, in 2015 was titled, Remember, Remember…  This one did outline what the Gunpowder Plot was about and basically, what happened to the thirteen plotters, including Guy (or Guido) Fawkes. Besides, I’m sure many people  will have watched the recent three part dramatization of the story on TV.  But here are a few illustrations from those posts anyway:

In years gone by there were many dates celebrated in November which are mostly overlooked or gone altogether nowadays. Some of these included All Saints’ Day on November 1, when people remembered the saints, outstanding Christians, many of whom were martyrs who had given their lives for their faith.

The forerunners of Christ with saints and martyrs, dated 1423-24. Author en Fra Angelico. Current location National Gallery, London. Public Domain.

All Souls Day on November 2 was when people remembered all those who had died. Families would take flowers to the graves of deceased  family members and had their names read out in church.

Another saint’s day was Martinmas Day on November 11. This was a time for celebrations, feasts and hiring fairs at which labourers would seek new posts. Farmers traditionally provided a cake and ale feast for the workers, the cakes being made with seeds and whole grains and called Hopper Cakes. Nowadays, and since 1918, November 11 has been celebrated as Armistice Day  Or Poppy Day) and all remnants of Martinmas Day have gone. On Armistice Day, people remember all the soldiers who died during two World Wars and all other wars:

Image courtesy of Pixabay

In the USA, the celebration of Thanksgiving is held on the fourth Thursday of November and has been held every year since 1783. I’ll  give only an over-simplified summary here, as I’m sure there will be lots of posts about it already out there.

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims/Pilgrim Fathers after their first harvest in the New World. The Pilgrims were people who had fled from the unsettled and dangerous environments in England and Holland to find a place to live where they could worship as they chose without being persecuted for it. In 1620 they set sail aboard The Mayflower and eventually reached Cape Cod in New England.

Embarkation of the Pilgrims, Photo of an oil painting from 1857, currently located in Brooklyn Museum. Public Domain

Today, Thanksgiving is a time for being with family and loved ones and remembering all the things in life to be thankful for. Family meals and general ‘get-togethers’ are a big part of the festivities.

And here are a few more random facts and dates about November:

  • November 26, 1922: archaeologist Howard Carter and his crew entered the four-room Egyptian tomb of 18-year-old King Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings.
Informal portrait of Howard Carter next to the train station in Chicago, 1924. Author: Chicago Daily News. Public Domain
The Valley of the Kings, Luxor. Photographer Peter J. Bubenik, 1995 Creative Commons
  • November 17, 1869: the Suez Canal officially opened.
Suez Canal between Kantara and El Fedane. The first vessel through the Canal, based on an engraving 1869 Public Domain
  • November 7, 1783 saw the last public hanging in England. Highwayman John Austin, was  hanged at Tyburn, near to where Marble Arch(in London) now stands.

    The “Tyburn Tree” – the permanent gallows at Tyburn, (London) which was where Marble Arch now stands. Used from the 16th century until the  hanging of John Austin 1783 Public Domain
  • November  8, 1920: The Daily Express newspaper first published the cartoon strip ‘Rupert Bear’.

    Rupert Bear Exhibition in the Museum of Canterbury. Author: Elliott Simpson, 2006. Creative Commons
  • November 21 1783. The first flight by man in a hot air balloon (designed by the Montgolfier Brothers) was performed by Jean-François de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes.
!786 depiction of historic Montgolfier Brothers’ 1783 flight, Illustration with engineering proportions and descriptions. Author unknown Public Domain
  • November 9, 1989: The Berlin Wall came down and East Germany opened its borders to West Germany.
The Berlin Wall in 1986 by Thierry Noir. Creative Commons

This post has already grown much longer than I had intended, so I’ll ignore all the interesting facts on my list and finish with a few photos taken on a lovely sunny day last week at the RHS Garden at Harlow Carr, near Harrogate, Yorkshire. (RHS = Royal Horticultural Society).

38 thoughts on “Navigating our way through November

  1. WONDERFUL read, Millie. Since my birthday is 11/29, of course I had to read every word of this post! Thanks — and Happy Thanksgiving to all of your readers, American or not.

    I also want to spread the word about November 24th – N-24 Awareness Day – one of the chronorhythm sleep disorders — sleep TIMING disorders currently *still* misdiagnosed by a great many doctors as insomnia, etc.

    Another article will be posted on my blog this year on Nov. 24th, since I am a sufferer who spent the first 3 decades of my life trying in vain to find out what in the world was going on – thankful for help spreading the word to others who are struggling as well.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    1. Hi Madelyn. Glad you liked my post, and thank you for the notice about your upcoming post. I’ve just been on your blog to read your post from last November about this sleep disorder and found it fascinating. I must confess, I’d never heard of N-24 Awareness Day or I could have included it in my post. I’ll be sure to read your 2017 post tomorrow.

      1. Thanks, Millie. I’m thrilled that one more person is now “aware” of N-24 – the whole point of these Awareness Days.

        I am quickly responding to a few comments on your blog and others before I must leave to join my friends for Thanksgiving dinner, since they are the ones that will scroll out of sight if I do not.

        Except to say THANK YOU very much, I shall have to focus on responding to your lengthy comment left under Tink’s article on my own blog after the feast – which is when it will appear as “approved” (darned spammers!)

  2. Hi Millie – I love your monthly posts…my husband shares a birthday with Winston Churchill and Mark Twain and is quite proud of that fact…I didn’t know that November is the least favorite month in England. Here in New Mexico, November is truly a glorious month…crystal blue skies, warm days and cold nights. November ends with Thanksgiving (my favorite) and the kick off of the holiday season. It’s on to all things Christmas until the end of year. I would have to say that January is the least favorite month…long and cold…with August as a close second… no holidays to break up the day-to-day. Happy November. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jeanne. Happy November to you, too! I can imagine how lovely Novembers are down in New Mexico. They sound idyllic and very colourful – but your climate as a whole is quite different to ours. Here, the short days of all the winter months are the worst thing. I don’t mind the cold so much, but I hate night starting at 4pm as I dislike working in artificial light. In the USA in general, November sounds like a fun month, especially once Thanksgiving arrives. We just have Bonfire Night, but even that isn’t celebrated as it used to be. January is often seen as a depressing month here, too, after all the fun of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. But, oddly enough, I like January. It’s a month of promise, with spring just around the corner. The frosts and snow (if we get any!) can also be very beautiful, though not so good for anyone who has to drives to work. 🙂
      (Have you started a new website? I followed the link back from your name earlier and found your old site gone.)

    1. Thanks for reading it, Arv. There are so many interesting facts about November, I had trouble deciding which ones to include. But I suppose I could say that for every month!
      I’ll visit your blog as soon as I can. 🙂

    1. Thanks Peggy. I’ve just had a flashing image of a November day in Australia. We had a month on the Gold Coast – in 2004 (late-October to mid-November) and it was really hot to us! I hate to think how hot your summers are, if spring is that warm. Here, winter’s on our doorstep right now, although we seem to be having plenty of sunshine. The winds are cold, though, and the days are far too short.

  3. This is such a fascinating post! November was the ninth month in the Roman calendar – nove meaning nine, and now we understand the names for October and September too!
    No, like Thomas Hood, I didn’t like November much either when I lived in Europe.
    And all those famous people born in November, and all the historic events.
    Thank you, Millie, for your outstanding work. I have to catch up with your posts. 😊

    1. Hello again. Irina. I have a lot of catching up to do, too. I’m not on my blog much nowadays but hope to manage to post more often next year.
      Yes, I think a lot of people will agree with Thomas Hood, although we’ve had some lovely sunny November days this year. Hope you’re enjoying a wonderful spring down there in Oz. I’ll look forward to seeing some of your photos.
      I’ve learnt a lot myself doing these posts. There’s so much information about each month that it takes ages to decide what to include. At least, if I decide to go through the year a second time, there’ll still be a lot I could say about each month.
      Thank you for the lovely comment. 🙂

      1. Hello Millie,I haven’t been much on the blog either. It’s time consuming to do both Facebook and blogging. I posted your post on November on FB as I want to show it to my husband. My latest post here is about November too, a photo essay.
        Cheers 🙂 Irina

      2. Thanks for putting my post on FaceBook, Irina. I’m hopeless with that site. I have two pages – one a personal one that was put on when I first published ‘Shadow’ and the second is an author account. My daughter talked me into both of them and I really don’t know how to use either properly. I’ve been using it via the Online Book Club recently, but other than that. I put a few photos on now and then.
        I’ll be sure to check out your new post. 😀

      3. Good luck, Millie! I have to help my husband with Facebook too. The thing is if you don’t use it regularly, you simply forget where to look and where to press!
        I’m hopeless with Twitter, I tweet, but hardly ever follow it up. 🙂

  4. Aw, thank you, Derrick. I get a bit carried away with these posts and sometimes have to force myself to stop. There are so many interesting facts about each month and I really enjoy looking them all up. 🙂

  5. Thanks, Ali. Yes, we’ve had an awful lot of wind this month – although, to be honest, we have a lot all year where I live. Our village is on a slight hill and very exposed. Where you are, you get the full force of the south-westerlies. I think few places in Britain escape the wind, unfortunately! 😀

    1. Thank you! Yes, my monthly posts do take a long time to put together, but doing research is something I enjoy. There is so much online about each month, the hardest part is deciding what to include! 😀

    1. Thanks Mike. Yes, my posts about the months seem to get longer with each one I do but, I suppose they are mostly all pictures. I’ve done seven ‘Month’ now (I started them in May) so I still have five to do. I can foresee fun when I’m doing December. I’ve done lots of Christmassy posts in the past, so I’ll have to find something else to write about.I suppose Thomas Hood was right about many November days but we’ve had some nice bright ones this year in my area. Other regions haven’t been quite so lucky, though, especially those recently flooded! 😀

  6. Millie, this is a spectacular post in tribute of November and all facts about it! 😀😀 I love the historical detail and interesting about it being the month of slaughter. What a great list of famous birthdays and fantastic events – I remember the Falll of Berlin Wall very well and studied in Leizig a few months later. Thank you so much for sharing the glorious photos of Harlow Carr – I do hope to go there when next up in Yorkshire!

    1. Thanks, Annika. November had so many interesting facts about it and I was sorry to leave them all out!
      Harlow Carr’s well worth a visit. We’re intending to go again in January to photograph the ‘wintry’ look. I’ll have photos of all four seasons then so I can include them in a single post.
      Best of luck with your book! 🙂

      1. That will be a stunning post, Millie and what a great idea! 😀 Enjoy your winter visit there…I’m quite jealous! But look forward to the virtual look around with you! ❤️

  7. Yes, November is the month full of colorful events, but ones of the most challenging in case of weather, so grey that sometimes you won’t to run away somewhere where there is more sun.🏃‍♀️ 😉 Fantastic post! Thank you so much!💙

  8. Hi Ann. Yes, there is still plenty of colour about in the foliage, but the weather is getting colder. The sunny days, though cold, are lovely but, like you, the grey, miserable days make me want to fly off somewhere bright and sunny. Australia sound good right now! 😀
    (Talk again soon.)

  9. I love the November poems and it’s funny how both can be true depending on your mood at the time or the weather. The first one feels more like February, but then Thomas Hood lived in a time before global warming. 🙂 Beautiful fall garden photos too and the trolls made me smile. I’m glad you’re enjoying your November and thank you for adding to mine. Happy November!

  10. Yes, there were so many famous people with birthdays in November but I try to pick a few I find the most interesting (or can find images of). Thank you for liking these monthly posts, too! Having since done December, I now only have four to do to complete the year. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.