Presently November 2021 | A month of traditions, cheerful feasts and holidays
Yes, it is November! Already! A time where autumn blends into winter. Leaves fall to the ground, of crimson sunsets, parting birds, passionate wind and songs in the pines. Nights come early, the firsts of white snow, log fires … Coatsworth has given a perfect description of this beautiful transition month.
With the frenzy of Halloween now subsided, you have planted autumn flowers and pull out your cozy jumpers … you can take a deep breath of crisp air, and settle into the very best month of autumn.
There’s a lot to look forward to in November, a month to Remember, of traditions, cheerful feasts and holidays. For Londoners especially, the metropolis comes alive with its dazzling Christmas Lights and winter festivals. Traditionally, November sees the celebrations of All Soul’s Day, Bonfire Night, Remembrance Day, Thanksgiving and Stir-up Sunday!
Popularly known as a holiday month and we spend time with friends and family during Thanksgiving. With moments to reflect and to be thankful for the little blessings that the year has bestowed. As well, go outside more, see the last of the blue sun, enjoy the November dry days and cool temperatures before frost and snow takes over.
For now though, put the kettle on, get yourself a cuppa or pour yourself a port and settle cozy in front of log fires to read what this edition of Presently November has in store for you.
Welcome to November e-column
About the month of November
As we step closer to the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, the southern hemisphere welcomes the sun and the rising temperatures.
With the onset of winter chills, and as we settle in for the slow dance and the grace of winter time, Presently November takes a brief look at the origins of November and what it meant, festivals and celebrations that brings autumn and winter together to their feasting table, along with November’s birthstone, birth flower and lores.
Origins of November
November is the eleventh month of the year and has thirty days. For many of us, the month marks the beginning of the winter even though the winter solstice does not occur till 21st December.
The month of November takes its name from the Roman word “novem” which means “nine”. It was the nineth month in the Roman calendar.
For some, the month of November may not be pleasant! The Anglo-Saxons referred to November as “Wind monath”, reflecting the cold winds that began to blow at this time of year. They also called the month, “Blod monath” to reflect the slaughtering of cattle for winter food. Also known as the “Sombre November” by the poet, T.S. Eliot.
I think the “feeling” of November in the early nineteenth century was well described by Sir Walter Scott, in his poem, Marmion in 1808. He wrote:
“November’s sky is chill and drear; November’s leaf is red and sear”
Traditionally, the month begins with festivals, celebrations and cheerful feasts. If you recall from the last e-column, end of October signals the end of harvest and this flows into the beginning of November, marking the end of harvest and beginning of winter.
Festivals, Celebrations and Traditions in November
November 1 — All Saints’ Day
All Saints Day is a solemn day of the Catholic Church. This holy day is also known as Feast of All Saints or Feast of All Hallows and is celebrated annually. On this day, Christians remember “saints” who are ‘men of goodwill’, great ones along with forgotten ones who have died throughout time. Saints are outstanding Christians, of both men and women, from all ages and walks of life. All honoured by the church.
All Saints Day was previously known as All Hallows Day. ‘Hallow’ meaning ‘saint’ or a ‘holy person’. The feast day started on the previous evening, the eve of All Hallows (Hallowe’en).
All Saints Day is an important day in Catholicism. In 835 AD, the Roman Catholic Church made the day a church holiday.
November 2 — All Souls’ Day
All Souls’ Day is another important day in the Roman Catholic Church. It is a day dedicated to remembering all those who have departed. Families visit graves of their loved ones, lay flowers or have their names read out during Mass.
Tradition and ‘Souling’ on All Souls’ Day
An old known custom, which began well before the Reformation on this day, is for poor Christians to offer prayers for the wealthier dead in return for money or food. This tradition changed somewhat in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, where ‘souling’ became the new custom. Similar to Caroling at Christmas, children go ‘souling’ requesting for alms or soul cakes. They would go around singing the following song:
“A soul, a soul, a soul cake.
Please good missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us merry.
Up with your kettle and down with your pans
Give us an answer, and we’ll be gone
Little Jack, Jack sat on his gate
Crying for butter to butter his cake
One for St. Peter, two for St Paul,
Three for the man who made us all.”
What is a Soul Cake?
A soul cake is a simple ‘cake’ made with butter, sugar, eggs, flour and mixed spice. It looks like a hot cross bun but has no currants or cross on top
Collectively, All Saints Day and All Souls’ Day are known as Hallowtide.
November 5 — Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night
One of the most fun and celebrated day in the British calendar is 5th of November!. It was the day in 1605 when Parliament was saved from Guy Fawkes in the Gunpowder Plot. A four-hundred year tradition continues with effigies of Guy Fawkes thrown into a large bonfire. This day is also accompanied by spectacular displays of fireworks, and food.
Recommended: Read all about November 5, and its food traditions.
November 11 – St Martin’s Day or Armistice Day
Traditionally, St Martin’s Day was celebrated with fairs and bountiful feasts. Known as well as Martinmas, this day was also a day when autumn wheat seedling was completed. Farm labourers were treated to cakes and ale feast. Some farm labourers would seek new jobs for post winter.
Traditional special cakes on Feast of St Martin are Hopper Cakes and Beef makes the customary meat dish.
However, since 1918, celebratory events on November 11 had almost disappeared. Replaced with a poignant Day of Remembrance (Armistice Day) dedicated to the millions of soldiers who died in the First World War, then the Second World War and in other wars.
22 November — St Cecilia’s Day
A patron saint of musicians, St Cecilia heard heavenly music in her heart during her marriage ceremony. She is represented with an organ. St Cecilia’s story is found in the ‘Second Nun’s Tale’ of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. She is a Roman martyr of the third century and was venerated by Pope Gelasius.
The Legend of St Cecilia
According to legend, Cecilia was a Roman noble who was given in marriage to a pagan, Valerian. She was close to God and prayed often. She fasted, and prayed to the saints, angels and virgins to guard her virginity.
On the night of her wedding, she told her husband that she had taken a vow of virginity and she is protected by an angel. Valerian asked to see the angel. Cecilia said he would but he needed to be baptized first. Valerian was baptized by Pope Urbanus and upon his return home, he found an angel by her side. When Valerian brother, Tibertius heard of his baptism and the angel, he too wanted to be baptized. Thereafter, both brothers dedicated their lives to burying the saints who were murdered by the chief of the city, Almachius. Both brothers were eventually arrested and executed.
Cecilia spent her time preaching and converting people to Christianity. Many were baptized by Pope Urbanus. She also distributed her wealth to the poor. This enraged Almachius.
Cecilia was arrested and was ordered to be burnt but she did not die. Almachius then ordered her death by an executioneer. She was struck three times but the executioneer was unable to decapitate her. Cecilia was left bleeding and lived for three days. When she died, she was buried by Pope Urbanus and his deacons.
Her remains were exhumed in 1599 and she was found to be immaculate, draped in a silk veil and a gold embroidered dress. A sweet flower-like scent was also reported as coming from the coffin. Officials did not make any further examinations.
Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere
St Cecilia’s remains were moved and placed under the high altar at the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, which was originally founded in the third century by Pope Urbanus. It is believed that the church was built on the site of the house where St Cecilia lived. This church was rebuilt in 1599 by Cardinal Paolo Emilio Sfondrati, nephew of Pope Gregory XIV.
Thanksgiving — Last Thursday in November
Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for the blessings of the harvest and the year so far. In addition, it has all the elements of a perfect holiday where families gather to enjoy a feast! Every family has their own traditions at Thanksgiving but generally, the dishes encompass roast turkey, turkey stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, cornbread, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and dinner rolls. Mac and Cheese is a must-have on every Thanksgiving dinner table! There are other side dishes as well such as sweet potato casserole and glazed carrots.
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in the month of November. In some countries such as the US, Canada, Grenada and St Lucia, Thanksgiving day is also a national holiday.
November 30 — St Andrews Day
This day is dedicated to celebrating St Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland.
Stir Up Sunday
The Sunday before Advent is known as ‘Stir Up Sunday.’ On this day, it is customary for every member in the family to take a turn at stirring the Christmas pudding, whilst also making a wish.
About Christmas Pudding
A Christmas Pudding is traditionally made with thirteen ingredients. This is to represent Christ and his disciples.
The pudding mixture is always stirred from east to west, honouring the three wise men who visited baby Jesus. While stirring, each family member is to make a secret wish.
Often, a coin is added to the pudding mixture and cooked. It is meant to bring wealth to whoever found it on their plate. Traditionally, the coin was an old silver sixpence. A ring may also be added to foretell a marriage.
Origins of ‘Stir Up Sunday’
Stir Up Sunday has its origins in the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer of 1548. The words ‘Stir Up’ were the opening words of the prayer for the day but has since been adapted. It is now a prayer after communion at the Church of England on the Sunday before Advent:
“Stir-up, we beseech thee,
O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people;
that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works,
may of thee be plenteously rewarded;
through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.”
Weather lores in November
As autumn blends into winter, nature prepares for the cold ahead …
There are a number of weather lores surrounding this transition month:
“If ducks do slide at Martinmas
At Christmas they will swim;
If ducks do swim at Martinmas
At Christmas they will slide”
“Ice before Martinmas,
Enough to bear a duck,
The rest of Winter,
Is sure to be but muck!”
“A warm November is the sign of a bad winter”
If St Martin’s Day is fair, dry and cold, the cold in winter will not last long.
If the leaves of the trees and grapevines do not fall before St Martin’s Day, a cold winter may be expected
“As high as the weeds grow,
So will the bank of snow.”
“If the geese on St Martin’s Day stand on ice, they will walk in mud on Christmas”
“There’s no better month in the year to cut wood than November”
Stay Connected with Timeless Travel Steps
Take time to enjoy the moments this month with these beautiful November quotes:
“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”
“November at its best—with a sort of delightful menace in the air.”
Anne Bosworth Greene
There are two birthstones in November. Citrine and Topaz.
Symbolising honour, love and affection, topaz is also believed to give the wearer increased intellect and strength. It is said to calm anger and balance emotions as well as bring wisdom and longevity.
The remarkable Topaz is generally found in igneous rocks and is colourless. However, impurities can turn it to various hues. Yellow and Amber are the traditional tones. Blue topaz is rare and the ones commonly available are often treated. The most valuable topaz is the reddish orange with pink undertones.
Citrine comes in the form of pale yellow to dark amber. Natural citrines are rare and the ones commonly found has been treated with heat.
Similar to topaz, citrine offer the ability to stay calm. In addition, it is regarded to heal, protect against snake venom and encourage prosperity.
November birth flower
Symbolising the vibrant colours of autumn, the chrysanthemum is November’s birth flower.
Passionately known as “mums”, the name originates from the Greek word, “chrys” which means “golden” and “anthemion”, meaning “flowers”.
Chrysanthemums are native to Asia and its history dates back to the fifteenth century. Both the Chinese and Japanese cultures consider chrysanthemums to represent youth. It had been suggested that chrysanthemums be used as an object of meditation.
MUMs come in many colours and some are said to hold meanings which you may like to know:
Red mums mean “I love you”
White mums mean “innocence, purity and pure love.”
Best Astronomy events in November
There are a number of astronomical actions in November, but the Partial Lunar Eclipse is said to be best.
Partial Lunar Eclipse
The partial lunar eclipse takes place on November 19, and is visible across Western Europe and Western Africa, all of East Asia, Oceania as well as North and South America. It will begin at 07:18 UTC/GMT to 10:47 UTC/GMT.
Hopefully the skies are clear for you to enjoy best views.
What happened in October …
October was a busy month on the personal front as I get into the festive vibe! Christmas songs, Christmas movies, and Christmas baking begins! Despite this, I managed to publish a few articles. Here they are, if you had missed them:
The months of November and December will be dedicated to the Holidays and the festive activities taking place in London. Stay tuned for the latest articles, and if you haven’t already, get yourself on the list! It is Free to join our membership.
Hope you enjoyed this month’s edition on Presently November, a month of traditions, cheerful feasts and holidays.
That’s a wrap from me for now, till next time. Have a wonderful month of November!
The impact of climate change is undeniable and sadly, has impacted many countries and all of us. Nevertheless, frost and snow is felt in many parts of the world still and the magic of Christmas, continues 🙂 Pumpkin pie is delish!!
I confess I knew nothing of Cecilia at all so it was interesting to read. Doesn’t the history also tell us something about how things, including climate have changed. The idea of snow in December I might find wonderful but is perhaps a dream. And stir it up Sunday is amazing although by now the cake and pudding are being fed their next drizzle of brandy.
I always find Thanksgiving interesting. Although primarily (I think) American it is one tradition I wouldn’t mind adopting not least for the pumpkin pie.