October is here, and in the northern hemisphere that often means the days are flush with falling leaves, chilling weather, and growing anticipation for the holiday season. The tenth month by our Gregorian calendar, October shares a root with octopus and octothorpe—the Latin octo-, meaning “eight.”
So, how did October become the 10th month?
In the Roman calendar, which had only ten months, October was 8th month, as January and February hadn’t been added to the calendar yet! Like its neighboring months September, November, and December, the numerical name stuck; even after Julius Caesar expanded the calendar year from ten months to twelve. October entered Old English via Old French, replacing the English vernacular term Winterfylleð.
What happens in October?
Children may look forward to October for Halloween, which falls at the month’s close, but beer-lovers may be more excited for what’s happening at the beginning of the month—Oktoberfest. This long-standing beer festival has gained popularity around the world, but the true Oktoberfest is located in Munich, Germany, where the festival has been held since 1810.
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The Oktoberfest celebration marks the beginning of a new beer-brewing season, as cooler temperatures bring optimal beer-brewing months—the colder weather keeps beer from spoiling. It has long been a tradition to polish off the remaining beer from the year to prepare the casks for a new brew in autumn.
Munich’s Oktoberfest now begins in late September, and although the seasonal climate is less relevant to breweries today, the beer festival of Oktoberfest remains a vibrant tradition!