01 October 2011


"This month was so named because it was the eighth month in the primitive Roman calendar ascribed to Romulus.  It became the tenth month in the calendar as revised by Numa, who added January and February, but it retained its original name, the more readily, perhaps, because it once more became the tenth month when the year commenced, as it did in early Christendom, with March.  Julius Caesar in his revision of the calendar gave it thirty days, which number was changed to thirty-one by Augustus.  As was the ease with September, many Roman Emperors sought to change its name in their own honor.  It was successively Germanicus, Antoninus, Tacitus, and Herculeus, the latter a surname of the Emperor Commodus.  But none of these names clung.  The Roman Senate had no better luck when they renamed it Faustinus, in honor of Faustina, wife of Antoninus.

The Anglo-Saxons called October Winterfylleth, a name which indicated that winter approached with the full moon of the month.  In old almanacs the sport of hawking is adopted as emblematical of this which was accounted the last month of autumn."  William Shepard Walsh, Curiosities of Popular Customs, p. 762 (1898).
Hawking in October
Astronomy for October: The full moon this month, on the 11th, is the Hunter's Moon.  As farmers could bring in their crops into the evening hours with the aid of the Harvest Moon last month, so hunters are given extra hours to fill their game bags this month.

Two meteor showers this month
 The Draconids, which peak this year on the 8th.  Unfortunately, the waxing moon (which will be full three days later) will drown out much of the shower.  This is doubly unfortunate, because, according to EarthSky, this may be a banner year for the Draconids, and instead of the measly showing of most years, there may be as many as 1,000 shooting stars per hour.  This is also one of the easiest to watch, as they peak around nightfall; instead of sitting out in the chill early morning hours, one can watch them while having a last barbecue.

The Orionids return around the 21st-22nd (those being the peak days).  The moon will be on the wane, which will give better viewing than for the Draconids.  EarthSky says to look for these meteors between midnight and dawn, with the best viewing in the wee [and very chilly] hours before dawn.

A good October and a good blast,
To blow the hog acorn and mast.

Weather for October

Based on the 12 Days of Christmas: Brilliant sunshine and chilly.
Based on the first 12 days of January: Overcast for the most part, and slightly chilly.
Based on the Ember Days: Gloriously beautiful!  Warm, sunny, gorgeous!

Weather Lore for October

There are always nineteen fine days in October [Optimists and those who stretch the definition of 'fine' say twenty-one days].

If October is warm and fine, a sharp winter can be expected.

If the latter end of October and the beginning of November be for the most part warm and rainy, then January and February are likely to be frosty and cold. [Likely? LIKELY? Trust me, January and February will be frosty and cold, no matter what.]

A warm October, a cold February (and vice versa).

As the weather in October, so will it be the next March.

Much rain in October, much wind in December.

Thunder in October signifies great winds and a dearth of corn.

For every fog in October, there will be a snow in winter; heavy or light accordingly, as the fog is heavy or light.

Full moon in October without frost, no frost until the full moon in November.

If October brings heavy frosts and winds, then will January and February be mild.

Much frost and snow in October betokens mild weather in winter.

If, during the fall of leaves in October, many of them wither on the boughs and hang there, it betokens a frosty winter and much snow.

Ice in October that will bear up a duck, foretells a winter as wet as muck.

When birds and badgers are fat in October, expect a cold winter.

10/9 - A hard winter follows a fine St. Denis.

10/14 - If St. Calixtus' day be dry and windy, the winter will be wet, but if it be rainy and still, the harvest will be good.

10/16 - If it is fine on St. Gall's day, it will be fine up to Christmas.

10/18 - St. Luke's Little Summer

10/28 - St. Simon and St. Jude, almost certain to be rainy.
            There is oft times a tempest on St. Jude.


Dry your barley in October,
Or you'll always be sober.  [Barley being necessary for malt, and malt being necessary for beer and whiskey, not paying attention to this admonition could mean a year spent drinking water]

In October, dung your field,
And your land its wealth shall yield.

If the first snow falls on moist, soft earth, it indicates a small harvest next year; but if upon hard, frozen soil, expect a good harvest.

The 1816 Almanac advises the farmer to "Transplant your brown Dutch and common Lettuces upon warm Borders, to abide the Winter; sow all Sort of Sallad Herbs upon decayed Hot Beds, such as Lettuce, Cresses, Radish, Mustard, and Spinach.  Earth up Celery, Chardoons, and the Stems of Broccoli Plants to protect them from the Frost."

"Make Plantations of the Suckers of Gooseberries, Currants, and Raspberries.  Cut Artichokes with long Stalks, which you may preserve in the House, by setting them in Sand."

"Continue to sow Wheat, set up your Barley Land, sow Masts for Coppices or Hedge-Rows; plant Quicksets and plash Hedges; and plant all Sorts of Forest-Trees that shed their Leaves."

It also gives this health advice to the reader: "Avoid being out late at Nights, or in foggy Weather; for a Cold now got may continue the whole Winter."

Artwork: "October" from the Tres Riches Heures of Jean, Duc de Berri, c1440.