Wednesday, November 1, 2023



November is the eleventh month of the Gregorian calendar.

In the northern hemisphere, autumn is coming to an end, the last leaves are falling, and it’s getting quite cold out. In the southern hemisphere. temperatures are heating up with the beginning of summer just around the corner.


Some facts and trivia . . .


November’s name has remained unchanged since the ancient Roman calendar, which was in use until 45 BC. This first Roman calendar was only made up of ten months, with November being the ninth month. September meant seven, October meant eight, November meant nine and December meant ten – sept, oct, novem, decem.

When the Julian calendar was adopted in 45 BC two new months, January and February, were added, which pushed November back to the 11th month. Despite its change in position, November was never renamed.

On November 19, 1978, the largest group suicide in history took place in Jonestown, Guyana. The group who took their lives were instructed so by Reverend Jim Jones, who was the leader of the suicide cult called the “People’s Temple”. Over 900 of the cult members drank a cyanide-laced drink, with those who refused being forced to consume it.

Jim Jones

November is the last of the four months which have 30 days. The other months are September, April, and June.

On November 22, 1963 President John F. Kennedy was fatally shot while riding along with his wife Jacqueline in a procession of cars. He was rushed to a hospital and was pronounced dead at 1 pm that day. Kennedy was the fourth US president to be assassinated, after Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, and William McKinley.

My daughter, Acacia (whose birthday is November 20, btw), recently visited Dallas and sent me some pics. I was surprised to see that there are X’s painted on the ground where the shots hit . . .

The Texas Book Depository, now turned into a museum . . .


The Anglo-Saxons had a fitting name for November. It’s usually at this time of the year in the northern hemisphere that cold winds start to chill to the bone, and as such, they called it “Wind Monath”, or wind month.

The Anglo-Saxons also called the month of November “Blod Monath”, or blood month. It gained this name as it was in November that they would traditionally slaughter cows to provide food for the long winter months.

The fifth of November marks a historic day in the UK. On this day in 1605, a group of Roman Catholics plotted to blow up the English Parliament while King James I was inside. Fortunately, the plot was foiled. Every year festivities are held across the country to celebrate the group’s failure, which includes setting off countless fireworks, lighting bonfires, and even setting alight effigies of Guy Fawkes, one of the conspirators.

English Folk Verse (c.1870)

The Fifth of November

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England's overthrow.
But, by God's providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James's sake!
If you won't give me one,
I'll take two,
The better forme,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn'orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

By the way . . .

The Guy Fawkes mask (also known as the V for Vendetta mask or Anonymous mask) is a stylised depiction of Guy Fawkes (the best-known member of the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up the House of Lords in London on 5 November 1605) created by illustrator David Lloyd for the 1982–1989 graphic novel V for Vendetta. Inspired by the use of a mask representing Fawkes being burned on an effigy having long previously had roots as part of Guy Fawkes Night celebrations, Lloyd designed the mask as a smiling face with red cheeks, a wide moustache upturned at both ends, and a thin vertical pointed beard, worn in the graphic novel's narrative by anarchist protagonist V.

Following the release of the graphic novel and its 2006 film adaptation, this design came to represent broad protest, later also becoming a symbol for the online hacktivist group Anonymous.

Thanksgiving is celebrated in the US on the fourth Thursday of November and has been celebrated since 1621. The first Thanksgiving was a feast celebrating the first bountiful harvest of the pilgrims of Plymouth and New England. It is still celebrated in a similar way, with families coming together and sharing plentiful amounts of food traditionally available during November.

Ron Cobb’s take on Thanksgiving

The Full moon in November is traditionally called the Beaver Moon in the US. The tradition goes back to North America’s early colonial years, as it was during this time of year that hunters would set their beaver traps for the last time before the lakes and water sources they lived in froze over.

November has just one birthstone, the radiant topaz. The topaz is symbolic of many things, but most of all it is a symbol of strength and honour. The ancient Greeks also believed that the stone had the ability to turn oneself invisible.

Common topaz in its natural state is colourless, though trace element impurities can make it pale blue or golden brown to yellow orange. Topaz is often treated with heat or radiation to make it a deep blue, reddish-orange, pale green, pink, or purple.

November also only has one birth flower, the chrysanthemum. Different coloured chrysanthemums have different meanings though – a white flower symbolizes pure love and truth, a red flower says “I love you” while a yellow flower is a symbol of unrequited love.

In Australia, the chrysanthemum flower is often considered the official flower for Mother’s Day.

In Belgium, Hungary, Lithuania, France, Poland, Austria, and other parts of Europe, the chrysanthemum flower is used at funerals and as memorial flowers to honor the dead. In these places, the chrysanthemum is often associated with death.

November 3, 1957, was a historic day for both Soviet Russia and the world. It was on this day that the first spacecraft carrying a live passenger was successfully launched into space. The passenger was Laika, a dog, an unassuming looking stray pooch who had been found on the streets of Moscow. The Soviets used stray dogs in their tests because they assumed that they would be used to the hunger and cold that they would inevitably experience in outer space.

No capacity for her recovery and survival was planned, and she died of overheating or suffocation hours into the flight. Little was known about the impact of spaceflight on living creatures at the time of Laika's mission, and the technology to de-orbit had not yet been developed, so Laika's survival was never expected.

Laika died within hours from overheating, possibly caused by a failure of the central R-7 sustainer to separate from the payload. The true cause and time of her death were not made public until 2002; instead, it was widely reported that she died when her oxygen ran out on day six or, as the Soviet government initially claimed, she was euthanised prior to oxygen depletion.

The beginning of the end of the War of Independence began on November 30, 1782, when a provisional treaty was signed between the newly-formed United States of America and the Kingdom of Great Britain. The final treaty wasn’t completed and signed until nearly a year later in Paris on September 3, 1783.

Some of the more notable people born in November include Mark Twain, Leonardo DiCaprio, Winston Churchill, Kurt Vonnegut, and Scarlett Johansson.

Those born in November can be born under one of two very different star signs. If you’re born before November 23rd then you have the sign of Scorpio. Those born on November 23rd or later have the sign of Sagittarius. Scorpios are said to value trust and honesty above other things, as well as being quite intense yet imaginative people. Those born under the sign of Sagittarius are quite different, being energetic and idealistic, while also generous and open-minded.

On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the consecration of the National Cemetery at the site of the Gettysburg battle. While Lincoln’s speech was just two minutes long it summed up everything important there is about democracy. Interestingly, Lincoln was in the middle of a minor bout of smallpox while he gave the speech, and looked drained and ghost-like.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

—Abraham Lincoln
Today, the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” is still regarded as the best definition of democracy.

President Lincoln at Gettysburg. A crowd of citizens and soldiers surround Lincoln (with a red arrow pointing to his location in photo).

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