Yet again I forgot to say white rabbits when I woke up. You’d think, seeing this is month ten of The Everyday Lore Project, I would have got the hang of this by now. Anyhow, October. Just as September has seven in its title, October has eight despite being the tenth month, those tricksome Romans. However, in Middle Welsh and Scots Gaelic, the month feels a bit more frisky after being named for rutting stags, hyddfref and damb respectively. But whatever, our toes have been dipped, and we are now firmly knee deep in the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.
October is one of those months that’s just gearing up for a rumble at the end, plus wearing slippers to work becomes totally acceptable (fight me). There’s also the traditional discombobulating lie in when the clocks go back on the 25th. And this year October treats us to two full moons, tonight’s Harvest Moon and a Blue or Blood Moon (which is neither blue nor bloody) on Halloween/Samhain.
Ahh, Halloween. A time when no-one questions you going fist deep into a pumpkin, candy corn becomes its own food group, and urban legends about razor blades in apples start circulating again. My mangelwurzels are growing for the pre-Halloween Punkie Night, my lovely friend Karin has sent me my traditional Halloween care package, while I’m knitting hers, and all I have to do now is choose what folklore I’m going to do that night. Should I go down to the crossroads at midnight to listen to the wind? Or do a bit of divination? Bob for apples? Go trick or treating? Get arrested for palm reading? Stay on the path and protect myself against werewolves, seeing as it’s also the full moon? Well, I have a month to plan.
So what traditions and folklore does October hold for you? Will you be celebrating all things apples on Apple Day on the 21st? Will you be sleeping with a crooked sixpence under your pillow on St Luke’s Eve? Or dipping your conkers in vinegar (not a euphemism) ready for a battle? Let me know! With less than 100 days left on the project, I want to cram in as much folklore as possible between now and 12th Night, so all inspiration is very much welcome. And I’d especially love to know what you’re doing for Halloween.
So here’s a sneak preview of what’s coming up this month other than dressing like a bat and making a witch’s hat for my cat, obviously:
10 October – learning out to bolve (the clue is in the hyddfref)
18 October – smearing myself with herbs and honey
26 October – taking the advice of some old cobblers
Let me know your thoughts in the comments. You can also follow and tweet me @lilithepunk and through the hashtags #EverydayLore and #FolkloreFOMO on Twitter, and if you want to keep up to date with a daily or weekly dose of this foolery, subscribe!
Right, I’m off to read up about Pertcha the Belly Slitter… Pinch punch!
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Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Chambers, R. (ed) (2004) The Book of Days, A Miscellany of POPULAR ANTIQUITIES in connection with THE CALENDAR including, ANECDOTE, BIOGRAPHY, & HISTORY CURIOSITIES of LITERATURE and ODDITIES of HUMAN LIFE and CHARACTER, Edinburgh, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd
Day, B. (1998) A Chronicle of Folk Customs, London, Hamlyn
Leendertz, L. (2019) The Almanac, A Seasonal Guide to 2020, London, Mitchell Beazley
Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books