I can already see the ghoulish faces, the hirsute werewolf masks and the sporadic Shrek costumes dotted around my neighbourhood. Goody bags opened wide with the sweet smell of optimism in the air, hoping that this year the haul is going to be bigger than the last.
That’s right, October is here – which means costumed trick or treaters are going to be inescapable later this month.
We’ve pulled together a pretty spooky collection of facts about this month, a pretty ghastly historic event to read all about and some equally ghastly national days to look forward to.
Get comfortable and prepare to discover all about October. But not too comfortable.
Where did October come from?
If you know anything about Latin and have read any of our past blog posts, you’ll have a little inkling about where the name ‘Octo-ber’ might have come from.
Many words we use today are indeed from Latin and this is the case with October. ‘Octo’ means eight, and as you may know, the months of the year used to be in a completely different order. The beginning of the year used to be in March and the end of the year was in February until Pope Gregory came and changed the structure.
When he did this October got pushed to the 10th month, which meant that the name didn’t really make sense anymore…. Confusing stuff.
There are nursery rhymes which stay with us throughout our lives, which we’ll always be able to hum the tune too. Some will immediately spring to your mind while reading this, and depending on where you’re from you may whistle a slightly different tune.
It’s often easy to forget that while these nursery rhymes on the surface seem innocent and for the amusement of little ones, many have a rather dark and sinister backstory. On October 12th, 1609, one of the most famous children’s rhymes was published for the first time in London – Three Blind Mice.
I’m sure that you can hear the… sweet little song in your mind right now, but if you aren’t familiar with the rhyme, here is the first verse:
Three blind mice. Three blind mice.
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer’s wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice
Seems innocent enough, albeit a little graphic, but is the song really about three poor blind mice? One pretty gruesome theory about this song, is that it is about the deaths of Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley.
Cranmer was a wealthy clergyman who was once the bishop of Canterbury under Henry VIII, but after Henry’s demise he became a thorn in the side of the heir, Mary I. When larger than life Henry checked out, Cranmer still flew his signature Church of England flag. While at first Mary said that she wouldn’t make anyone follow her preferred religion, Roman Catholicism, she didn’t take favourably to disobedience.
Eventually this led to high profile executions of various Protestant dissenters. Cranmer, Latimer and Nicholas were victims of the executions and were burned at the stake, not blinded as the song suggests. The deaths that occured due to dessentism gained Queen Mary the nickname of ‘Bloody Mary.’
In the song, the ‘Farmer’s Wife’ is thought to be Queen Mary, being as she married Philip of Spain who owned a substantial amount of land. Although the bishops weren’t blinded, it is thought that the mention of being ‘blind’ may suggest that they were blind because they followed Protestantism.
Upcoming Curious October Events
If you’re a fan of downright weird days, you’ll love what’s in store for October. There’s a day to honour the computer whizzes, a day to encourage the younger ones to do some exercise and a day which could not suit my personality more if I wanted it to.
Firstly, it’s national Coffee with a cop day on October 3rd. Get down your local bakery, grab a nice cup of coffee, along with some doughnuts and head down to your local station. You’ll be the most popular person there without a police badge. It’s also National Techies Day, a day to honour the IT guys who don’t get the recognition they deserve.
As if that wasn’t enough, 3rd October is also National Walk to School Day. I remember way back when, taking part in this tradition. The perfect excuse to get to the local corner shop and stock up on sugary supplies. Yum.
Everyone knows that the best part of a Sunday roast is a Yorkshire Pudding covered in gravy. October 13th is National Yorkshire pudding day, so take out the Auntie Bessie’s, crank that oven up to 230° and chow down on the most exciting part of a roast.
Finally, a day which gives me an excuse to be a grumpy so and so ALL DAY. October 15th is National Grouch Day, a day where we can tut to our hearts’ content, moan about it being too hot or too cold or too humid or too windy. Get it all out, I know I will be doing just that.
So, after exploring the depths of the spooky month of October, we’ve learned some pretty fascinating but gruesome facts about nursery rhymes, where the name ‘October’ came from and some pretty exciting days to look forward to.
Anyway, it’s time for me to dust my Shrek costume off. Happy October!
(Oh and click on the image below to see our new Wise(ish) Words collection!)