Since at least 1909, a superstition has lived in North American and the United Kingdom that if a person says or repeats the word “rabbit” upon waking up on the first day of the month, good luck will follow for the remainder of that month.
Elements of the tradition exist in the United Kingdom, New England, and even in various First Nation cultures.
While I’m not necessarily endorsing the superstition, it provides a way to look in depth at each month of the year, from history and observances to miscellaneous trivia. The topic this month is November.
November is the eleventh month of the year, but it used to be the ninth in the old calendar of Romulus. That’s where November got its name, stemming from the Latin novem for “nine”.
Roman observances for November included Ludi Plebeii (November 4–17), Epulum Jovis (November 13), and Brumalia (starting on November 24). These dates do not correspond to the modern Gregorian calendar.
Anglo-Saxons also referred to November as Blōtmōnaþ. This stemmed from the Anglo-Saxon scholar Bede in his treatise De temporum ratione (The Reckoning of Time), in which he stated that “Blod-monath is month of immolations, for it was in this month that the cattle which were to be slaughtered were dedicated to the gods.” An entry in the Menologium seu Calendarium Poeticum, an Anglo-Saxon poem about the months, explains that “this month is called Novembris in Latin, and in our language the month of sacrifice, because our forefathers, when they were heathens, always sacrificed in this month, that is, that they took and devoted to their idols the cattle which they wished to offer.”
In the French Republican Calendar, November fell in the months of Brumaire and Frimaire. Brumaire was the second month of the autumnal quarter (mois d’automne) in that calendar, named after the French word for fog, brume, since it is prevalent during that time. Brumaire spanned October 22-24 to November 20-22. Frimaire was the third month, named for the frimas, the French word for frost. It spanned November 21-23 to December 20-22.
November is the Month of Holy Souls in Purgatory in the Catholic Church. It also includes Academic Writing Month, Annual Family Reunion Planning Month, Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Movember (the annual growing of mustaches to support men’s health issues), Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month (in the United Kingdom), Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month, and Stomach Cancer Awareness Month.
The United States, specifically, also observes COPD Awareness Month, Epilepsy Awareness Month, Military Family Month, National Adoption Month, National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, National Blog Posting Month, National Critical Infrastructure Protection Month, National Entrepreneurship Month, National Family Caregivers Month, National Bone Marrow Donor Awareness Month, National Diabetes Month, National Homeless Youth Month, National Hospice Month, National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, National Pomegranate Month, and Prematurity Awareness Month.
Of particular import to my family is Native American Heritage Month. This observance aims to provide a platform for Native people in the United States to share their culture, traditions, music, crafts, dance, and ways and concepts of life. It also provides an opportunity to express to their community, city, county, and state officials their concerns and solutions for building bridges of understanding and friendship in their local area. It was declared by President George H. W. Bush on August 3, 1990.
National Novel Writing Month also occurs throughout November. Commonly known as NaNoWriMo, this month offers writers of all experience levels a challenge to write 50,000 words on a single project. A word count of 40,000 officially makes a novel, but 50,000 is the typical minimum. Most novels span 60,000 to 100,000 words, but the 50,000 target provides a good milestone and challenge, especially for those who are not used to writing so many words consistently.
On the astronomical front, November meteor showers include the Andromedids (September 25 to December 6, with a peak around November 9-14), the Leonids (November 15-20, the Alpha Monocerotids (November 15-25, peaking on November 21-22), the Northern Taurids (October 20 to December 10), the Southern Taurids (September 10 to November 20), the Phoenicids (November 29 to December 9, peaking on December 5-6), and the Orionids (spanning late October into November).
- November’s birthstones are topaz (particularly yellow, which symoblizes friendship) and citrine (a variety of quartz that symbolizes prosperity).
- The western zodiac signs of November are Scorpio (until November 21) and Sagittarius (November 22 onwards).
- The month’s birth flower is the chrysanthemum.
Rabbit Rabbit is a project designed to look at each month of the year with respect to history, observances, and more.
For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.