History of November: That In-between Month


November is the penultimate month of the year, meaning “next to the last.” It used to be the ninth month (Latin: novem) until the ancient Romans shoehorned in January and February. November enjoys the distinction of being situated between the two biggest holidays in the American calendar… at least revenue-wise. October has Halloween, the #1 candy revenue holiday in America, and a sucrose collecting bonanza for children nationwide. December features Christmas, #1 in everything else, and a favorite for those who are children-at-heart.


November is Interstitial

But November is somewhere in the middle. Certainly, it has Thanksgiving, no insignificant holiday, and something for which to be grateful. But it’s not widely observed outside the US, except for the Canadians who celebrate Jour de l’Action de grâce on the second Monday in October, or by the English who celebrate it on July 4th.

Sure, there are month-long celebrations in November:

  • Movember, though it is a newer holiday, tends to grow on you.
  • Who could forget Sweet Potato Awareness Month? It’s always in good taste.
  • For you aspiring writers, it’s Academic Writing Month (also known as “AcWriMo”) based on National Novel Writing Month (“NaNoWriMo”).
  • And also National Blog Posting Month (“NaBloPoMo”). This would be an example of a blog article.
  • Finally, big shock, it’s also Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month.


November and H.E.S.

November is subject to an increased incidence of what I call H.E.S. or Holiday Elision Syndrome. The following examples should be sufficient to explain this.

1) Here’s a question that your friendly neighborhood historian is frequently asked, now that it’s November:

“Is it OK to listen to Christmas music now?”

In America, our Constitution allows us to listen to Christmas music all year long, regardless of date. Look it up. However, it is disturbing that TV stations abuse that freedom by showing horror movies in November, AFTER Halloween.


Is Nothing Sacred?

Pumpkin Spice Chips

2) The popularization of Pumpkin Spice Everything, indeed the increasing “pumpkinization” of America, discussed previously, has been a cultural eraser that minimizes distinctions between the end-of-year holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

3) Historically Black Friday, following Thanksgiving, was the beginning of the Christmas season with street decorations, lights, commercials, merchandise, and even music. More recently, this is eliding into pre-Halloween appearances. I’m looking at you, Costco and Lowes!


Lessons for Future Novembers

What can we learn from this historical lesson?

But let’s try to keep each holiday separate. If we do, everyone will get more candy.



Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian

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About billpetro

Bill Petro has been a technology sales enablement executive with extensive experience in Cloud Computing, Automation, Data Center, Information Storage, Big Data/Analytics, Mobile, and Social technologies.

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