Facts about England in November
The name comes from the Roman word ‘novem’ meaning nine, because it was the ninth month in their Roman calendar.
Few people find November pleasant. The Anglo-Saxons called November ‘Wind monath’, because it was the time when the cold winds began to blow. They also called it ‘Blod monath’, because it was the time when cattle were slaughtered for winter food. The poet T.S. Elliot called it ‘Sombre November’. Sir Walter Scott, in his long poem Marmion, wrote in 1808:
November’s sky is chill and drear,
November’s leaf is red and sear (withered)’
The first week of November has always been a time of festivals and celebrations marking the end of the harvest and beginning of Winter.
All Souls Day Tradition
According to tradition, a pilgrim returning from the Holy Land took refuge on a rocky island during a storm. There he met a hermit, who told him that among the cliffs was an opening to the infernal regions through which flames ascended, and where the groans of the tormented were distinctly audible. The pilgrim told Odilo, Abbot of Cluny, who appointed the following day (2 November 998) to be set apart for ‘all the dead who have existed from the beginning of the world to the end of time’. The day purposely follows All Saints’ Day in order to shift the focus from those in heaven to those in purgatory.
In the year 835 AD the Roman Catholic Church made 1st November a church holiday to honour all the saints. This feast day is called All Saints’ Day.
All Saints’ Day used to be known as All Hallows (Hallow being an old word meaning Saint or Holy Person). The feast day actually started the previous evening, the Eve of All Hallows or Hallowe’en.
Christians remember all the saints
On Saints’ Day, Christians remember all ‘men of good will’ (saints), great ones and forgotten ones, who have died through the ages.
Saints are men and women from all ages and all walks of life, who were outstanding Christians. Some – the martyrs – died for their faith. All of them are honoured by the church.
All Saints’ Day, together with All Souls’ Day are know collectively as Hallowtide.