November – The Lost Month

A love letter to a lost month.

You have to feel sorry for November. It really doesn’t get as much love as the other months.

Yes, it has bonfire night, but that gets caught up in the preceding Halloween celebrations which dominate October. Besides, it’s at the beginning of the month leaving us with another 3 weeks and 5 days of November nothingness.

October is awash with pumpkin spice, costume design and trick-or-treat planning. Everybody embraces Halloween night by either dressing up and collecting/handing out sweets or by switching off the lights and pretending they’re not in. (Both paths followed with equal intensity.)

But, come November 1st, the seasonal lanes in our supermarkets make a hard turn from Halloween into Christmas. The countdown to December 25th has begun in it’s most intense form. Starbuck switches to it’s Christmas range. John Lewis releases it’s Christmas advert. We’re awash with reminders to order our turkeys and are halfway through the Strictly season. I’m surprised that some company isn’t selling an advent calender with 54 days on it to begin on November 1st. It may only be November 6th but you feel like you should be putting up your Christmas stocking already.

Christmas dominates November, even if you don’t celebrate it, and it’s not even in the same month as Christmas Day.

Unfair to November

This is all desperately unfair to November, which has a lot more to it than scared pets and rotting pumpkins. The Americans have their Thanksgiving celebration at the end of November. We don’t celebrate that in the UK, but we have inherited the commercial cess-pool of fake sale prices known as ‘Black Friday’. Ooft, poor November. Surely there’s more to this month than Amazon specials and news reports of idiots queueing to fight for a cheap TV?

Well, yes, as it happens. It’s the month of the last of the Autumn walks, of plums, leeks, and pears. November is when we get our first really dark evening skies when it’s still early enough to go out and admire the stars. For the first time since last winter, we reach for those warming, homely recipes to heat up our bellies from the first visits of frost. (Lentil soup, anybody?) It’s the month where we get to dust down our onesies and thick PJs and who cares if we wear them during the day?

November has a shedload of things going for it, and I am going to champion them to the last. I am here to blow November’s trumpet. I went on a search for November things to shout about, and this is what I found.

100th Anniversary of the Birth of Joonas Kokkonen – November 13th 2021

Joonas Kokkonen was a Finnish composer born on 13th November 1921. Clearly way ahead of his time, here’s a sample of his music. This would not be out of place in a Spielberg movie.

Anti-Bullying Week – November 15th to 19th

Thousands of schools, organisations and individuals this Anti-Bullying Week, 15-19 November 2021, will be getting involved in the #OneKindWord campaign. This year’s theme is #OneKindWord. The year’s campaign theme has been co-designed with young people before being adapted by the UK’s leading anti-bullying organisations including respectme.

Kindness is perhaps more important today than it has ever been. The isolation of the last year has underlined how little acts of consideration can break down barriers and brighten the lives of the people around us. This year, let’s remind ourselves of the power of kindness, and how it can halt hurtful behaviour in its tracks.

International Mens Day – 19th November

International Mens Day is apparently intended “to recognize and celebrate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of men”. Some would argue that every day is a reminder that men dominate these fields and it would be hard to argue with that. Now more than ever we see that the actions of some men are making women feel like they can’t safely walk the streets. We also see suggestions that women need to amend their own behaviour because of the actions of a man, which is clearly wrong. There’s undoubtedly a prevailing culture that looks to blame female victims of assault rather then squarely pinning the blame on the male perpetrator. We all know this.

I think that we can celebrate the actions of men, though, without belittling the wrongs that we see in this country. We can use events like International Mens Day to hold ourselves to a higher standard. We need to remind ourselves of our responsibilities in an equal, just and safe society.

It is intended to be an occasion to celebrate boys’ and men’s achievements and contributions, in particular for their contributions to nation, union, society, community, family, marriage, and childcare. So let’s celebrate those things while hammering home the message that we (men) need to, well, basically, stop acting like dicks.

Movember – All November

Movember is an annual event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide. It’s also a great excuse to grow that ridiculous moustache that the other months wouldn’t let you get away with. Go November for allowing us to attempt a WWI pilot’s tash!

St Andrews Day – 30th November

The patron saint of Scotland has his moment in the winter sun on 30th November. He’s the brother of St Peter and actually met and knew Jesus. Not bad. I looked into how St Andrew became Scotland’s saint, and found this paragraph:

Saint Regulus was said to have had a second dream in which an angel advised him to take the hidden relics “to the ends of the earth” for protection. Wherever he was shipwrecked, he was to build a shrine for them. He set sail, taking with him a kneecap, an upper arm bone, three fingers and a tooth. He sailed west, towards the edge of the known world, and was shipwrecked on the coast of Fife, Scotland.

I also found this:

A local superstition uses the cross of Saint Andrew as a hex sign on the fireplaces in England and Scotland. These are meant to prevent witches from flying down the chimney and entering the house to do mischief. By placing the Saint Andrew’s cross on one of the fireplace posts, witches are prevented from entering through this opening.

So this is all well worth celebrating. Any excuse for a malt whisky before December kicks in!

Special Days

It’s also my wife’s birthday and our wedding anniversary in November. And my mother’s birthday! So you can see why November is such a special time in our household!

November photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash

1 Comment

  1. Peter
    10 November 2021

    The StAndrews cross left on fireplaces, church doors and windows is actually and overlaid double V, standing for Virgin of Virgins. It is as you say to stop witches and evil spirits entering the place. I have seen many of them during my graffiti searches in medieval churches. Southall Cathedral has scores of then as has many other churches I have visited. If you look at DNMGS in Facebook you will find information about these marks, or just google medieval graffiti. Great article.

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