Every November, it’s time to begin preparation for the winter months, whether that means pulling out your winter coat, adding another blanket to your bed, or searching for the perfect pumpkin pie recipe.
November also holds some of the most important times of the year: elections in the US, Thanksgiving, Daylight Saving Time … Black Friday. OK, some of those aren’t that important, but there is a lot going on during this shorter month (November has 30 days).
The Hindu festival of lights, Diwali, is often celebrated in November (although it may fall in October, according to the Hindu lunar calendar). Veteran’s Day is observed on November 11 and honors veterans and those who have served in the armed forces. (Like many of us, you may be wondering exactly why the apostrophe is placed where it is—and why Presidents’ Day doesn’t follow the same standard!)
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So what does November mean?
November derives from the Latin root novem- meaning “nine,” because in the Roman calendar there were only 10 months in the year, and November was indeed the ninth month. The word November was first recorded before the year 1000.
For many English speakers, November marks the point in the year when the cold begins to set in. This association is no doubt why November’s adjectival form, Novemberish, means “dreary,” and why the month’s original name in Old English was Blōtmōnað, literally “blood-month.” Wait, blood month?
Get ready for some gory history: November was the month of heavy animal sacrifice, when the early Saxons would stock up on food for the winter. Today, Blōtmōnað might still be a relevant term—particularly during the weeks leading up to that turkey-filled Thanksgiving dinner.
What is November’s gemstone?
If you were born in November, you’re either a Scorpio (the tenacious and magnetic type) or a Sagittarius (an innovative trailblazer). Did you know there’s yet another (and newer) zodiac sign that might describe November babies? It’s called Ophiuchus.
No matter your sign, the November birth stone is topaz (before the 20th century, this term described any gem of yellow color). However, recently a specific form of topaz—citrine—has become the more specific birthstone of November. Citrine can vary in color from yellow to orange to brown and is generally more affordable than other kinds of topaz.