N O V E M B E R
This page will change from month to month - perhaps you can help us with information on seasonal fruit and vegetables, seasonal dishes, observations of customs and the natural world. Contact us - e-mail: info[at]commonground.org.uk.
November the ninth ... ?
November was the ninth month in the Roman calendar - 'novem' means 'ninth' in Latin. Later the Romans added some new months during the winter, where there hadn't been any previously, and November moved to eleventh, while confusingly keeping its 'ninth' name.
What's happening in November?
What's in Season?
What's happening in November?
- indicates an extract from England In Particular
All Saints Day
All Soul’s Day
At one time guisers and children would beg for soul cakes - flat, square pieces of spiced cake containing currants in return for songs and prayers for lost relatives. In north west Cheshire, the tradition of Soul-Caking plays continue; mumming plays that include a hobby horse or wild horse. Originally performed to raise money for themselves, now money is collected for charity. The Warburton Souling Play season starts on Nov 1st and continues for 2 weeks. The Antrobus Souling Plays is first peformed at the Wheatsheaf on 31st October & continues during the first two weeks in November.
"At the end of October, at dusk, with the full moon on the eve of Samhain - the moment of 'summer's end' and New year - Celtic peoples gathered on open ground and hilltops to light fires to purify and protect the land. this was a moment for remembering the dead. David Keys wrote that human sacrifice would have been a common 'bribe' to keep evil spirits at bay, and he suggested that 'today - symbolically - those human sacrifices still take place. Guy Fawkes Night absorbed the bonfire ceremony which until the early nineteenth century used to be a major feature of Hallowe'en ... For some two thousand years, effigies have replaced human sacrifices.' The Christianising of the calendar, including All Hallows Eve, never quite supplanted the power of the things that had long guided the year. The proximity of Hallowe'en and Bonfire Night is no coincidence - powerful politics and clever marketing seem to have welded the two. After Guy Fawkes and his Catholic band were foiled in their attempt to blow up Protestant Parliament on 5 November 1605, an Act was passed decreeing an annual public holiday. Official celebrations gained in popularity; long after the threat of 'Popery' vanished, this persistence, together with enthusiasm for bonfires, has continued to amaze governments and historians." From 'Bonfire Night', p.47.
Ottery St Mary Tar Barrels, Devon
"This unassuming small town changes its personality altogether on an extraordinary day, beginning at half past five in the morning with loud thuds all around town. Men discharge hand-held 'cannons' - short, bent pipes, rammed with powder and then hit on a percussive cap to set off flash and charge ... the great bonfire [is] lit at half past six in the evening ... The crowds head back into the centre of town, where big signs urge 'Beware of Burning Tar Barrels' and 'You are here at your own risk' ... Starting at known points around the town ... the barrels are fired up by straw and paper, rocked into flame on the ground and, with a great shout, lifted by a man, hands clad in hessian pads, onto his shoulders. He heads off, crying 'uppard' or 'downard', perhaps as clues to his trajectory ... Careful, attentive followers run, at the ready to help, and 'rollers' (carriers) run alongside to take the effort from one to another as they tire. The right to carry barrels is often passed on within families; it does not come easy. There are seventeen barrels to be carried from four until midnight, starting with boys, then youths, then women, until the men begin with the full-size barrels; the biggest, at midnight, is a hogshead, which requires a man's full wingspan." From 'Tar Barrel Rolling', p.399.
Lewes Bonfire, Sussex
The biggest bonfire night celebration in the country, with processions beginning at around 5.30pm and continuing until midnight, the bonfire being lit at around 9.0pm.
"In Lewes, Sussex the burning of effigies is a long-held tradition. Each of the five Bonfire Societies, representing different parts of the town, burns its own Guy; some still parade Pope paul V, but every year the focus is on different contemporary figures. In the early evening parades of up to six hundred 'bonfire boys and girls' carry out their own ceremonies, before joining the mile-long Grand United Procession together with Bonfire Societies from other parts of sussex and up to a hundred thousand onlookers. Giant effigies are stuffed full of fireworks to be ignited by the bonfires. Massive firework tableaux, five flaming tar barrels carried on poles (which end up in the river Ouse), five mock archbishops and other clergy, exotic costumes and hundreds of flaming torches that turn the streets into rivers of fire, make this a night to remember. The local brewery, harveys, even creates a special Bonfire Boy Ale each year." From 'Bonfire Night', p.47
Turning the Devil's Stone, Shebbear, Devon
"On 5 November the bell-ringers of Shebbear in Devon make a real mess of ringing the church bells; they then emerge from St Michael's and, taking crowbars, literally turn over a great boulder beneath an old oak just beyond the east side of the churchyard. This secures safety for the village during the coming year. perhaps the custom has shifted from Hallowe'en, when evil is at its closest, for the stories suggest that the stone belongs to the devil, that he lies beneath it, or that he dropped it, or that it kept being moved here when they were trying to build the foundations of a nearby church. At about three feet high, four broad and six long, the Devil's Stone is of exotic, quartz-rich conglomerate. How it came to this place no one knows (ice never reached here)" From 'Turning The Devil's Stone', p.416
Diwali day, the Hindu Festival of Lights. Celebrations are planned across the country, see Leicester and Brent for examples - Leicester claims to hold the second largest celebration outside of India.
Bridgwater Carnival, Somerset
Procession starts at 7pm followed by the Squibbing display around 10.45pm.
"The brashness of these occasions excites and overwhelms. The crescendo in Bridgwater, Somerset, on the closest Thursday or Friday to 5 November now attracts crowds of 150,000. The two-hour procession of spectacular floats is just part of the almost riotous night, which ends with a unique display of squibbing along the High Street (windows boarded). One hundred or more squibs tied to wooden 'coshes' are simultaneously lit to provide waterfalls of golden sparks. Originally Bridgwater Squibs would end with a loud bang, but no longer." From 'Carnivals', p.71
Blazing Tar Barrels, Hatherleigh, Devon
"Now on a Saturday, but originally on the Wednesday after 5 November in Hatherleigh in Devon, sledges of flaming tar barrels are pulled down the street at five o'clock in the morning, preceded by a bell-ringer, who makes a clamour to scare away evil spirits. The tar barrels are used to light a bonfire in the cattle market. In the evening a torch-lit procession with the Hatherleigh silver band leads the carnival floats around the town and is followed by a second run of flaming barrels on sledges, dragged at full pelt by up to forty local men and then taken to re-fuel the bonfire." From 'Tar Barrel Rolling', p.399
"It starts at 8pm on Friday evening when the kids of the town pull the two sets of Tar Barrels up Market Street to the top of the town, where they remain overnight ... At 5am, the first set of Tar Barrels is lit and pulled through the Town at a sprint to Hatherleigh Market, where a Bonfire is set"
Held on 11th November (the anniversary of the Armistice which ended the first World War), or the nearest Sunday, the dead of the two world wars and other conflicts are remembered.
Stir up Sunday
An event in which the whole family must participate - preparing the Christmas pudding and mince pies. A wooden spoon should be used for stirring (always in a clockwise direction) with eyes shut. (if you want your wish to come true). Traditionally this is the last Sunday before Advent, and a silver coin (for wealth), ring (for marriage) and thimble (for luck) are cooked in the pudding for the eaters to come across.
Mistletoe and Holly Auction, Tenbury Wells
The mistletoe auctions which have taken place in Tenbury Wells at this time of year for over a century have been under threat in recent years, but a Mistletoe Festival has been established to keep Tenbury's mistletoe heritage in the spotlight, and thrives in spite of the terrible damage done to Tenbury Wells by flooding in 2007. The auction keeps its special place in the proceedings, on three Tuesdays in late November/early December.
What's in SEASON?
Fruit, Nuts & Vegetables
Beetroot, Brussels sprouts and tops, carrots, cauliflower, celariac, celery, curly kale, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, Savoy and red cabbage, squash, swedes, turnips.
Apples include: Barnack Orange, Blenheim Orange, Bramley’s Seedling. Chivers Delight, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Christmas Pearmain, Hambledon Deux Ans, Lady Henniker, Laxton’s Superb, May Queen, Newton Wonder, Rosemary Russet , Yorkshire Greening.
Cob nuts, comice pears, quinces.
Why not make some bonfire toffee for Bonfire Night?
Trees, our mute companions,
looming through the winter mist
from the side of the road,
lit for a moment in passing
by the car’s headlamps:
ash and oak, chestnut and yew;
witnesses, huge mild beings
who suffer the consequence
of sharing our planet and cannot
move away from any evil
we subject them to,
whose silent absolution hides
the scars of our sins, who always
forgive – yet still assume
the attributions of judges, not victims.
This poem appears in
Trees Be Company
An anthology of poetry,
edited by Sue Clifford and Angela King
You can buy a copy of this book from our MARKET PLACE
The largest of the three types of swan familiar in Britain (Mute and Bewick are the others), these are winter guests, having made an autumnal flight from Iceland to over-winter in our lakes and bays. Good places to see them are nature reserves in East Anglia (notably WWT Welney, and RSPB Ouse Washes), Lancashire (WWT Martin Mere) South-West Scotland (Linwood Pond, WWT Caelaverock), the Scottish Highlands (RSPB Loch Garten & Insh Marshes), and Northern Ireland (WWT Castle Espie).