October is best known for its Halloween festivities, but it’s also a month loaded with national and global holidays and celebrations. In addition to spooky revelry, October’s schedule includes multiple national days, weekly observances, and monthly occasions.
In October, autumn comes into full swing. Let’s get in the fall mood! Learn why this month is called October, which holidays to look out for, what to do in the garden, what to bake in the kitchen, when to see the full Hunter’s Moon, and more!
The Month of October
This month’s name stems from the Latin octo, “eight,” because this was the eighth month of the early Roman calendar. When the Romans converted to a 12-month calendar, the name October stuck despite the fact that it’s now the 10th month! Learn more about the origins of month names.
The early Roman calendar, thought to have been introduced by Rome’s first king, Romulus (around 753 b.c), was a lunar calendar. This ancient timekeeping system contained these 10 months: Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Iunius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October (the eighth month), November, and December. Martius, Maius, Quintilis, and October contained 31 days, while the other months had 30, for a total of 304 days. In winter, the days were not counted for two lunar cycles.
It wasn’t until about 713 b.c. that a calendar reform, attributed to the second Roman king, Numa Pompilius, added the months Ianuarius and Februarius. Some historians think that both months were placed at the end of the year, while others believe that Ianuarius became the first month and Februarius the last. Later reforms organized the months as they are arranged today in the Gregorian calendar, whereby October became the 10th month despite its name.
October glows on every cheek,
October shines in every eye,
While up the hill and down the dale
Her crimson banners fly.
–Elaine Goodale Eastman (1863–1953)
- October 9 is Leif Eriksson Day. Who was Leif Eriksson, and why was he important?
- October 9 is a busy day, with three more holidays packed into it:
- Canadian Thanksgiving. This holiday shares many similarities with its American equivalent. However, there are a number of things that set the Canadian Thanksgiving apart!
- Columbus Day (U.S.), a federal holiday, is observed on the second Monday in October. It was on October 12, 1492, that Christopher Columbus landed on a small island in the Bahamas, convinced that he had reached Asia. Read more about Columbus Day.
- Indigenous Peoples’ Day (U.S.)—a holiday that celebrates the history and cultures of indigenous peoples native to what is today the United States. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is celebrated in cities and states across the country, often alongside or in lieu of Columbus Day. Read more about Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
- October 18 is St. Luke’s Little Summer. This is a date steeped in folklore. Traditionally, around Saint Luke’s feast day, there is a brief period of calm, dry weather.
- October 24 is United Nations Day, which aims to bring awareness to the work of the United Nations worldwide.
- October 31 is Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve)! Do you know the true history of Halloween? It’s not as frightful as you might think… Learn about the origin of Halloween.
“Just for Fun” Dates in October
Oct. 4: International Ships-in-Bottles Day
Oct. 6: National Noodle Day
Oct. 12: National Fossil Day
Oct: 24–Nov. 11: World Origami Days
Oct. 28: Frankenstein Friday