01 October 2013


"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).

Astronomy for October:
The full moon this month, on the 18th, 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 or around the 7th.  The waxing moon sets around 9:30 so these falling stars should be easy to see in the evening.  If it isn’t too cold, I like to fire up the grill for a last barbecue and enjoy the show (well bundled-up, of course), even if there isn’t much of a show.

The Orionids return around the 21st . The waning moon will probably be too bright to see much of the Orionids, but look south in the predawn hours.

October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary.
A Linear Rosary

Liturgical Celebrations
St.Therese of the Child Jesus          1 October
Holy Guardian Angels                    2 October
St. Francis of Assisi                        4 October
First Friday                                     4 October
First Saturday                                  5 October
Our Lady of the Rosary                  7 October
St. Denis of Paris                            9 October
St. Teresa of Jesus                        15 October
St. Hedwig                                    16 October
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque        16 October
St. Ignatius of Antioch                 17 October
St. Luke, Evangelist                     18 October
St. Isaac Jogues & Companions   19 October
St. Ursula                                      21 October
St. John of Capistrano                  23 October
St. Raphael, Archangel                 24 October (traditional)
St. Anthony Mary Claret              24 October
Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles     28 October
Vigil of All Saints                        31 October

Novenas for October             You can find these novenas here

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus   continues from 22 September
Holy Guardian Angels                    continues from 23 September
Saint Francis of Assisi           continues from 25 September
Saint Faustina Kowalska       continues from 26 September
Our Lady of the Rosary         continues from 28 September
Our Lady of Good Remedy   continues from 29 September
Saint Gerard Majella             begins on 7 October
Canadian Martyrs                  begins on 10 October (in USA)
Saint Raphael, Archangel      begins 15 October
Saint Anthony Mary Claret   begins 15 October
Christ the King                      begins 18 October (traditional)
Saint Jude                              begins 19 October
Holy Souls in purgatory        begins 24 October
Saint Martin de Porres           begins 25 October

Since October is Respect Life Month, consider praying these novenas:
For the unborn
St. Gianna Molla

Of course, at the rate we are going maybe we should try the novena for impossible requests.

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

Weather for October

Based on the 12 Days of Christmas: Cloudy and cold.
Based on the first 12 days of January: Overcast and warm.
Based on the Ember Days: Beautiful!  Bright, warm, clear.

I wonder which weather we’ll see most of…
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.]

On the other hand

If October and November are cold, then the following January and February will be mild and dry.

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.

If there is thunder in October, expect uncertain and changeable weather during the winter.

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 it freezes and snows in October, January will bring mild weather, but if instead there is thunder and lightning, the weather of January will be as changeable as April.

If the first snow falls on moist, soft earth, it indicates a small harvest in the following year, but if it falls on hard, frozen ground, there will be a plentiful harvest.

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.

If the deer’s coat is gray in October, there will be a severe winter.

10/1 – On the feast of Saint Mary, expect the first frosts (this is from Russia, but some of us in the western hemisphere can expect the first frosts about now as well)

10/2 – If the leaves fall upon Saint Leodegarius Day, then will the next year be productive.

10/9 - A hard winter follows a fine St. Denis.
Where the wind lies on St. Denis, there it will rest for three quarters of the year.

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.
On St. Gall’s day, expect a late summer (Indian summer)
A dry St. Gall’s day betokens a dry summer.

10/18 - St. Luke's Little Summer.  In northern Italy, it is called Saint Teresa’s summer, as it falls near the feast of Saint Teresa of Avila (October 15).  In Germany, for the same reason, it is called the summer of Saint Gall (October 16); in Sweden, Saint Bridget’s summer (October 8), and in France, the summer of Saint Denis (October 9).
On St. Luke’s day, the thunder goes away.

10/21 – St. Ursula brings in winter (or at least the preliminary chills)

10/28 - St. Simon and St. Jude, almost certain to be rainy.
There is oft times a tempest on St. Jude.
Winter comes on the day of St. Simon and St. Jude.
If it doesn’t rain on SS. Simon and Jude, it won’t rain until Saint Cecilia’s day (Nov 22)

 10/31 – Where the wind rises on the eve of All Saints, there it will rise for three quarters of the year following.

And just in case it comes early…
The date that the first snow falls on is the number of snows we can expect this winter.

Farming and Gardening for October:

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 Adam’s Ale, aka 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.

10/16 – After St. Gall, keep your cow in the stall.

The 1817 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."

Cassell’s Illustrated Almanac 1871 for October
Flowers — Clear away all unnecessary growth from the garden, potting all plants requiring protection, and getting the ground generally clear, that it may be turned well over before the winter sets in. The exposure of the soil to the depth of a spade or more, in the frost or snow of winter, will purify the ground and make it productive.

Vegetables — Autumn-sown lettuce and cabbage will now require transplanting. Take up carrots and parsnips when the tops have turned yellow; and continue to earth up celery and to dig potatoes. Turn over all vacant spaces, and prepare for the next crops.
Fruit — Currant and gooseberry bushes may now be transplanted, and they should be carefully pruned, all cross branches being cut away. If propagation is desired, lay some of the strongest shoots. Put a coating of lime round about the stems, to protect the bushes from caterpillars.

Health Advice for October:
"Avoid being out late at Nights, or in foggy Weather; for a Cold now got may continue the whole Winter."

October. Limbourg frères. Grandes Heures of Jean, Duc de Berry, Fifteenth century.
The calendar pages of the Grandes Heures carried more religious symbolism than that of the more famous Très Riches Heures.  Each month was dedicated to a part of the Apostles Creed, with the relevant prophecy from the Old Testament and scripture from the New Testament. October is dedicated to the article of the Creed which says “…I believe…in the remission (forgiveness) of sins…”.  Here we see (left to right) Saint Paul instructing Titus and his companions from Colossians 1:14: “…we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins…”.  Above the gates of the New Jerusalem, from whence issues an odd depiction of Scorpio, the Scorpion, astrological symbol of October, Our Lady holds a banner with a Montjoie to represent the Church and Communion of Saints [once again, the artists are behind by a month, and will be for the rest of the year].  Beneath the arc of heaven where the sun continues its decline, a herd of pigs or wild boars fatten on the fallen mast (acorns)..

“Adoration of the Magi” from The Hours of Catherine of Cleves, 15th c. 
The border of this page is formed by Catherine’s roaary of red beads (coral?), pearls, and gold elements.  This kind of rosary is known as “linear”, of which you can learn more here.

October. Limbourg frères. Grandes Heures of Jean, Duc de Berry, Fifteenth century.
Depicted at the bottom of the calendar pages in the Grandes Heures is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament by the articles of the Apostles Creed.  In each, a prophet (cloaked to show the obscurity of prophecy) takes a stone out of the building representing the Old Law and offers it to an apostle, who, by raising the cloak ‘uncovers’ the prophecy with an article of faith.  Here, the Prophet Malachi holds a banderole with the words “…he will put away our iniquities...”  (Micah 7:19), while behind him, the towers of the Old Law have crumbled; meanwhile St. Simon the Apostle (whose feast with St. Jude is the 28th of this month) presents the relevant part of the Apostle’s Creed, “…the remission of sins…”

Hawking. Engraving based on an 11th century manuscript. William Walsh, Curiosities of Popular Customs (1898), p. 762