October Oddments

The tenth month of the year is October in the Gregorian and Julian calendars and the sixth of seven to have 31 days.  The Anglo-Saxons called this month ‘Winterfylleth’ as it marked the celebration of the beginning of winter. (I’m not sure that in a time devoid of central heating, winter would be anything to celebrate but each to their own.)

Zodiac signs are air sign Libra and water sign Scorpio. Often mysterious, passionate and assertive, the scorpion is most compatible with Cancer, Virgo, Capricorn and Pisces.

Flower is the vibrant marigold.

Moon is the Hunters Moon, in recognition of the hunting and laying of 20181005_091845provisions for the long winter ahead. It was also known as Travel Moon and Dying Grass Moon by the Algonquin Tribe, as this was the time to travel to the swamps to set beaver traps before they froze, ensuring a plentiful supply of furs for warmth in winter.

Sowing and Growing will keep you busy this month. You can plant: beetroot, broccoli, sprouts, spring cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, broad beans, asparagus, peas, garlic, onions, sweet peas, lavender, narcissus, pansy, petunia, crocus, dahlia, cyclamen and gladiolus. If you can manage all the above, congratulations on having a large garden.

Birthstones are Opal and Tourmaline.

Significant days include:

  • 1 October – world habitat day
  • 1 October – world vegetarian day
  • 1 October – international day for older persons
  • 4 October – national poetry day
  • 4 October – St Francis day – patron saint of animals
  • 6 October – world cerebral palsy day
  • 10 October – world mental health day
  • 11 October – world obesity day
  • 13 October – world hospice and palliative care day
  • 16 October – world food day
  • 17 October – world eradication of poverty day
  • 18 October – anti-slavery day
  • 19 October – epilepsy action day
  • 20 October – brain tumour awareness day
  • 24 October – United Nations day
  • 25 October – St Crispin’s day – patron saint of shoemakers
  • 29 October – world psoriasis day

October Awareness includes black history, cholesterol, lupus, back-care, dyslexia, international school library month, pituitary, international walk to school month, breast cancer, ADHD, smoking, disability employment, youth homelessness, braille, arthritis and baby loss.

Sporting events include Formula 1 Japanese, USA and Mexican Grand Prix, rugby super league grand final, WTA tennis finals, Six Day London cycling and UK seniors snooker championship.


The Mop Fair was the place to go if you were a labourer or servant looking for work. Contracts would normally be yearly, from October-October and most people would carry a small sign indicating what type of work they were looking for; maids would carry a mop – hence the name. Once a deal had been struck, the worker would replace the sign with a brightly coloured ribbon to show they had been hired.

I know my mop isn’t authentic but hopefully I’ll manage to secure a position for the next year – if it helps, I can supply my own bucket.

October Plenty is a harvest festival celebration fusing old customs with street theatre, starting outside Shakespeare’s Globe and processing to Borough Market each year. Figures include the Corn Queene, Hobby Horse and Berry Man with the autumnal incarnation of the Green Man.

Changing the clocks at 02:00 on the last Sunday in October, marks the end of British20181010_111009 Summer Time and the start of Greenwich Mean Time.  This is to make the most of the longer daylight hours in summer. In 1942 it was decided to advance the clocks by another hour for additional daylight saving to further support the war effort. Here is an example of a long case clock made by Thomas Tompion in 1712, which currently stands in the Oak Hall at Petworth House in Sussex.

St Luke’s Day on 18th, was the time for girls to apply a mixture of spices, honey and vinegar to their faces to gain some insight into their future marriage prospects. In addition they should repeat the following rhyme as they retire to bed;

‘St Luke, St Luke be kind to me, In dreams let me my true love see.’  Yup, that should do it.

Halloween also known as All Saints’ Eve or Hallows’ Eve and occurs on 31 October every year. Historically, it begins the three day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical (church) year dedicated to remembering the dead, particularly  hallows (saints) and the faithfully departed.

Carving potatoes and turnips into Jack-o’-lanterns is a Halloween tradition dating back hundreds of years, however Irish settlers in America discovered a far larger and moreIMG_20181008_111511447 suitable vegetable; the pumpkin. Alternatively, you can pop into a home accessories shop and buy a pretend one.

Today it is also known for the practice of ‘trick-or-treat’, when children dress up and knock door-to-door to demand a treat or threaten some sort of mischief. For some, the safeguarding concerns raised for both ‘trick-or-treaters’ and vulnerable homeowners, far outweigh the entertainment value. However, residents who are happy to participate, indicate this by displaying decorations or lighting lanterns outside their properties.

Historical Events:

  • 1066 – Harold II, the last Anglo-Saxon king is killed at the Battle of Hastings
  • 1154 – Henry II becomes the first Plantagenet King of England
  • 1226 – St Francis of Assissi dies
  • 1452 – Richard III, the last Plantagenet king is born
  • 1537 – Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII, dies after giving birth to his only son
  • 1618 – Sir Walter Raleigh is beheaded on the orders of James I
  • 1666 – Charles II is recorded as wearing the first waistcoat
  • 1769 – Captain James Cook discovers New Zealand
  • 1781 – American War of Independence ends with British surrender
  • 1805 – Admiral Lord Nelson dies at the Battle of Trafalgar
  • 1854 – Charge of the Light Brigade from the Battle of Balaclava
  • 1870 – first official issue of postcards with the introduction of the halfpenny stamp
  • 1902 – Britain’s first prison for Young Offenders is opened in Borstal, Kent
  • 1903 – Emmeline Pankhurst begins the campaign for women’s suffrage
  • 1911 – Britain’s first escalator opens in London
  • 1920 – women are fully admitted to Oxford University and permitted to take degrees
  • 1925 – the first television transmission by Scottish inventor, John Logie Baird
  • 1967 – breathalyser tests are introduced in UK by Transport Secretary, Barbara Castle
  • 1990 – East and West Germany reunite to become one country.

Blooming chez Haiselden: 

And finally the tragic tale of the elaborate hoax. This began in October 1968 when Donald Crowhurst, businessman and amateur sailor, entered the Sunday Times Golden Globe Yacht Race. He was inexperienced and under-prepared but needed money to save his ailing business.  He soon realised his cause was hopeless. He shut down his radio and created false navigational logs, whilst hiding out in the South Atlantic with a plan to rejoin the race in the final stages. It was a naive plan because if he won, his data would have been closely scrutinised and his deception exposed. His boat was found adrift nine months later but of the yachtsman, there was no sign. It was presumed that he either fell overboard accidentally or committed suicide. Robin Knox-Johnston was declared the race winner and donated his prize money (£5,000) to the widow and children of Mr Crowhurst.

See you for the penultimate time next month when we will take a look at November.

About Julie Haiselden

Since 1999, I've worked in the NHS and am blessed with a happy family life. I write books and am a very amateur blogger. As well as being a school alumna, I occasionally tread the boards. I enjoy rambling and photography (although my enthusiasm for the latter, outweighs my skill set). Since 2016, I've been part of the reviewing team at Whispering Stories.
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2 Responses to October Oddments

  1. Great post as usual – You forgot one significant day – My Birthday!! 🙂 I’m a Halloween witch!

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