Five Things You Probably Didn’t Know About November
The elections are finally over and November is in full swing! November, to me, is one of those months that starts off kind of slow and then builds up into a frenzy by the end of the month. Thanksgiving is a great holiday, but it really just acts as a kickoff to the busy time of year. The month is cold, dark, and is a foreshadow of the cold months to come. It's never been one of my favorite months, but then I decided to find out some things about the 11th month. Here are five things I didn't know about November that you might not have known, either.
It Hasn't Always Been Number 11
The Romans didn't consider November the eleventh month. They said it was the ninth month (according to the Julian Calendar) and, in fact, its name comes from the Latin word, Novum, which means - nine. Tiberius Caesar was given the eleventh month and the Romans called it Ianuarius (you would know this as January, but the Romans didn't have the letter "J"). It was originally given thirty days, but then someone wanted an extra day, so it was dropped to 29. Later the Romans added two days to the month, then it went back to thirty. Are you following along? November became officially November in 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII said let's stop all of this bull and created a papal bull (sort of a Pope's official decree) making it the month we all know and love.
November, That Month We Love
November is the month when things really start to get cold. The leaves are mostly off the trees, the farmer's crops are completely done for the year, and you might see some snow. Back in the days of old, the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons called this the Windy Month or the Blood Month. The windy part is pretty easy to guess, since there are a lot of storms in November and there are no leaves left on the trees to block the wind, but why the blood month? It's because it was the time of year that the farmers would slaughter the animals that they were going to use during the winter months. Back in those days there was no refrigeration, so you didn't have meat very much during the summer months. Meat has a tendency to go bad when it is ninety degrees outside, but you can keep it cold in the winter. You also don't want to have to feed all of those animals when you aren't sure where your next meal is coming from. Plus that...guess where the extra animals lived during the winter months? That's right, in bed with you and the rest of your family! No need to get pushed into the cold by an extra goat. When the weather turned cold, the farmer slaughtered the lamb!
We celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving in the United States in November. Typically, this holiday is celebrated on the last Thursday of the month and it is to represent how the Pilgrims overcame adversity and thanked God for surviving their first year at Plymouth Rock. They celebrated this day with a feast and they asked their neighbors, the Indians, to come and join them in their dinner. Sounds like a great story, if any of it were true. The first Thanksgiving was held in 1789 - over 150 years after the Pilgrims landed. It was then held off and on in different states and Canada throughout the next two centuries until Franklin Roosevelt made it standard for it to be on the day you know it now. Why did he pick the fourth Thursday in November? To get the United States out of the Great Depression and get people spending money for the holiday season.
While we're on the topic of Thanksgiving and November, why is it that we eat turkey on Thanksgiving? If you are going to go back to that whole Pilgrim thing, you're wrong! All right, I'll concede, there was a meal that the settlers shared with the Indians because they were there. They might have even called it a "thanksgiving" which was a popular word of the time to have a get together for everyone to eat lots of food, but turkey wasn't on the menu. Think about it. They were in Massachusetts chowing down on the foods that they could get their hands on. This turned out to be lots of veggies, New England cod and lobster, some chickens, and maybe a deer or three. Where did the turkey come into play? Wild turkeys are really a tough meat and not one you'd want to feast upon. A more likely bird would have been the domesticated goose. What's ironic is that the goose was living in England at the time. Queen Elizabeth I was having dinner when she got news of the defeat of the Spanish Armada (watch the movie Elizabeth, The Golden Age). She was so happy, she ordered an extra goose to be cooked up for dinner and the British thought this was the ideal dinner for a celebration.
November's Other Holiday
Most people barely recognize this as a holiday anymore. Those that do, basically know it as a day of getting off work. The day in question is Armistice Day, also known as Veteran's Day or Remembrance Day. It commemorates the signing of the treaty that ended World War One in which 20 million people died. This occurred on November 11, 1918 at 11:00am. The date was declared a national holiday in many allied nations, to commemorate those members of the armed forces who were killed during war. In the United States, the day officially became known as Veteran's Day after World War 2. Besides being a federal holiday, it is typical to remember the people who gave their lives for our country in two minutes of silence at 11:00am on the day. Not a lot to ask for twenty million lives...