Dates to Celebrate in October and November

6th October – National Poetry Day

Why not take time to ponder a few lines of verse? Or use National Poetry Day as your inspiration to enter the Chronicle 20th Anniversary Writing Competition!

8th October – Yom Kippur

Also known as the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in the synagogue.

According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into the Book of Life on Rosh Hashanah, and waits until Yom Kippur to “seal” the verdict. During this time (the “Days of Awe”), a Jew tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and against other human beings. At the end of Yom Kippur, they consider themselves absolved by God.

30th October – Summer Time Ends

Don’t forget to put your clocks back, and enjoy an extra hour in bed!

31st October – Halloween

pumpkinIt is generally accepted that Halloween has its origins in the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced Sow-ain), which marks the end of the pagan year. The name Halloween derives from “All Hallows Even” (the night before All Hallows Day, and was first used in the 16th century. Much of the paraphernalia associated with Halloween today is commercialised, but some of the customs have roots in the distant past. For example, carving jack-o’-lanterns comes from the custom of carving turnips into lanterns as a way of remembering the souls held in purgatory. The turnip was traditionally used in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin because they were readily available and much larger, and easier to carve than turnips.

1st November – All Saints Day

Also known as All Hallows Day, in the Christian church this day commemorates all those who have attained the direct vision of God in heaven. It is a national holiday in many historically Catholic countries.

5th November – Bonfire Night and Turning the “Devil’s Stone” in Shebbear

bondfireThe whole country will be lighting bonfires and setting off fireworks to commemorate Guy Fawkes’ failed attempt to blow up Parliament in 1605. Local celebrations include the running of the tar barrels in Hatherleigh (see Deb Dooley’s article on page       ), and turning the “Devil’s Stone” in Shebbear, when the one tonne lump of rock known as the Devil’s Stone (or Devil’s Boulder), which lies in the village square, is turned over by the village bellringers. The stone is a “glacial erratic” – not from a local rock formation. Legend says the stone arrived in Shebbear when the Devil dropped it while fighting with God. The Devil lost the battle when the stone fell on top of him, flattening him under it. According to local tradition the stone needs to be turned over every year or a disaster will fall on the village. The last year it was not turned on November 5th was during the Second World War, when such frivolity was frowned on, but after a few days of bad news someone flipped it over anyway.

13th November – Remembrance Sunday

poppyHeld on the Sunday nearest Armistice Day (11th November), Remembrance Sunday commemorates the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts. The “two minutes” silence at 11.00 a.m. is actually slightly less than two minutes – one hundred and eleven seconds. It represents the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, when the guns of Europe fell silent at the end of the First World War.

It is a sad reality that the Royal British Legion still need to support servicemen and women injured in modern wars around the world, so don’t forget to buy a poppy to help them continue their invaluable work.

20th November – Stir-up Sunday

stir upThe last Sunday before Advent has long been called “Stir-up Sunday”. It is thought the term comes from the opening words of the collect for the day in the Book of Common Prayer of 1549, which begins, “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people…”

However, the name seems to have “stuck” because of a more secular association, related to the fact that most recipes for Christmas pudding call for the mixture to stand for several weeks before cooking. Supposedly, cooks, wives and servants would go to church, hear the words, “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord…”, and be reminded, by association of ideas, that it was about time to start stirring up the puddings for Christmas!

27th November – First Sunday in Advent

candlesThis is the first day in the calendar of the Christian church. It is also the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, and marks the real beginning of the Christmas season, no matter how long Christmas decorations and goods have been on sale in the shops!

30th November – St Andrew’s Day

If you have Scottish roots, celebrate your National Saint’s Day.

Chris Bell

October 2011 (Autumn issue)