I am not somebody who wishes my life away but given everything that has happened in 2020 I will not be sorry to turn the page on the calendar on December 31. This has been a stressful year for all of us due to COVID-19, big swings in the economy, too much media saturation on politics, and too little civil discourse on the best way forward. Election day is now behind us, but the political storm continues. And speaking of storms, I also can’t wait for the end of hurricane season (we are getting close!), and of course a return to normalcy following the pandemic.
It feels like this year seems to have already lasted about 1,000 days, and for some reason it got me thinking of the old nursery rhyme “Thirty days has November, April, June, and September. All the rest have 31, but February’s 28, the leap year, which comes once in four, gives February one day more.” November and September rhyme and have the same number of syllables so can be swapped around in the useful rhyming reminder. According to scholars, this rhyme is an old English poem from the 15th century; its longevity must mean that it is not only me that finds it helpful!
And so, we now find ourselves in November, best known for Thanksgiving and Veteran’s Day. Two Christian holidays, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day fall within early November, and the Advent calendar begins at the end of the month to countdown until Christmas as well. Daylight saving time ends in November, and although we have just been through this change last weekend, the date varies from year to year. As is the way these days, every date on the calendar has been appropriated to represent or celebrate something but a couple that appeal to me are the first Thursday of November, which is today, and is apparently ‘National Men Make Dinner Day’ (hint, hint) and November 18 which is ‘National Apple Cider Day’ (yummy).
November was named during a time when the ancient Roman calendar year began with March making it the ninth month of the year – ‘novem’ is the Latin word for nine. When the months of January and February were later added to the Roman calendar, November became the eleventh month of the year with a length of 29 days. During Julius Caesar’s calendar reform, over two thousand years ago, a day was added to November making it 30 days long again.
Moving forward many centuries in history, voting on a Tuesday in the American elections isn’t as arbitrary as you might think. In 1845 Congress passed a law mandating that the Presidential election day would be held every four years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in the month. The rationale was that November marked the end of harvest time but still offered mild weather for voters to travel to the polling stations.
In the 20th Century, significant November historical moments include Armistice Day which was first held in 1919 to mark the cessation of major hostilities of World War I, which ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Armistice Day is known as Remembrance Day in the UK and Veterans Day in the USA since 1954 when major U.S. veteran organizations suggested the change in name to honor veterans. Another somber November anniversary is 11.22.63, when John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
Fortunately, there are many happier anniversaries in November – especially one of my favorite American holidays – Thanksgiving. In our family we have another reason to celebrate this month, as our youngest grandchild celebrates her birthday in mid-November – making her birth flower the chrysanthemum and her birthstone the topaz.
I will leave you with a quote by Anne Bosworth Greene, early 20th century British writer who spent most of her life in America. In her book The Lone Winter about her time on her Vermont horse farm, she describes the month as “November at its best – with a sort of delightful menace in the air.”
God Bless America! Stay safe, stay well, stay positive and enjoy your November.
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Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com