October is the best month and it’s not even close.
When I wrote August is the Worst Month two months ago I knew I had to have a follow-up. That post was more introspective – I was having a bad time and I realized that I often struggle in August. But I didn’t have to think about October. It’s been my favorite month for all of my adult life, and if it wasn’t my favorite month during childhood (it’s hard to compete with December when you’re a little kid) it was pretty high on the list.
My favorite month and my least favorite month are only two months apart. I think there’s a lesson somewhere in there. Don’t give up, keep moving, things will eventually get better and maybe sooner than you think.
But this post isn’t about deep spiritual lessons. This post is about why October is the best month.
Some years the cooler temperatures arrive in late September. This was the third hottest summer on record in North Texas. It’s still hot – as I write this, the high on October 1 is supposed to be 95. But if the meteorologists can be believed, at least we’re done with the 100 degree days. And by the end of the month, the highs should be in the low 70s.
It makes such a difference to be done with the oppressive heat. I can go walk without having to get up before dawn to do it, and without having to find a route that stays out of direct sunlight. I can sit outside in meditation instead of stepping out for just long enough to say a prayer and pour an offering before going back inside where it’s air conditioned.
I’m following the weather – and the climate – in several places as I contemplate moving in a few years. In some places October isn’t the transition from hot to nice, it’s the transition from nice to cold. I’ll deal with that when it’s time. For now, October is my favorite month because the temperatures finally become reasonable.
The other part of the seasonal change is shorter days and longer nights. As I’ve mentioned before, either I have Reverse SAD or I just like the dark. Either way, it makes me happy to step outside for my evening prayers and have the sun already below the houses and not in my eyes. I like starting my outdoor exercise in the dark without having to get up before 6:00 AM on a weekend.
Maybe if I lived in a place with greater extremes I’d feel differently. I’ve lived in the South almost all my life, and my three winters in the North weren’t that far north. South Bend, Indiana is roughly at the same latitude as Northern California or Madrid, Spain.
But I live in Texas and I like the shorter days. In October we’re past the Fall Equinox – the nights are longer than the days and they’re getting longer.
All four major sports at once
I’m not obsessed with sports, but I like sports. They’re a nice distraction from the difficulties and complications of life. And in October, all four major team sports are going at once.
Today is the last day of the regular season in baseball. The playoffs start on Tuesday. The World Series used to be called the October Classic – with the expansion of the playoffs now it usually extends into November. That’s too late to be playing baseball (it’s an outdoor, warm-weather game), but in October you’ve got the best teams playing high-stakes games.
Football is in full swing at all levels. Basketball and hockey are in training camps now. The NHL starts playing regular season games on October 10 and the NBA starts on October 24. And the WNBA has their finals this month.
Yes, this is very US-centric. Yes, there are other sports. These are the sports that matter to me, and they’re all going now.
When I was a kid, Halloween was the second-best day of the year, behind only Christmas. It’s never lost its appeal to me.
I don’t really do costumes anymore, but Halloween is an opportunity to wear some of my darker-themed outfits (OK, horror and goth t-shirts, but you get the point). The older I’ve gotten the less I worry about feeling out of place, and with everyone back in the office this year I’m already wondering how much I want to push things on October 31.
I still enjoy carving pumpkins and giving out candy to trick-or-treaters. When I was a kid even the Baptists celebrated Halloween. They knew it was scary fun and had nothing to do with “celebrating Satan.” Now with the pushes for alternative events – and the push by some to restrict who can ring their doorbell – I feel the need to support Halloween.
And I really enjoy the horror movies in October. Check the TV schedule, especially TCM – they run lots of the classic horror movies I love. In 2016 I wrote 31 Movies for Halloween and in 2019 I did 13 Horror Movies I’m Watching This October. I’ll have a brand new Halloween movie feature next week with all new movie recommendations.
I really enjoy Halloween, both the day and all the parties and such leading up to it.
I love the secular holiday of Halloween, and I also love the Pagan holy day of Samhain. Is it our holiest day? That’s up for debate (can one holy day really be holier than another?) but it’s certainly our most popular sabbat. And like all the sabbats, it’s more than a day – it’s a season.
This is the time to remember our beloved dead and pay extra attention to our ancestors. Modern Pagan lore says the boundary between the ordinary world and the Otherworld is thinnest at this time of the year. Whether that’s true or not Samhain is a good time to speak to them, make offerings to them, and listen for their presence.
That which is remembered lives.
Samhain is also a good time to remember that someday we will all die. Death is scary, and it’s especially scary in this materialist culture that tries to ignore it and to stave it off at all costs. But if we explore death and the Otherworld in ritual, in meditation, and in contemplation, it will become familiar. And then when our time comes we will not be afraid, because we will have experienced it before.
More good months are coming
As much as I love all these things, for me the biggest difference between October and December – which is also a very good month – is that October is just the beginning.
After October the temperatures will continue to get cooler and the days will continue to get shorter. Halloween and Samhain will be over, but Thanksgiving and Christmas and the Winter Solstice are on their way. Along with many – though not all – I’ll have an extended break from work at the end of the year. October is the best month but November and December are also very good.
But in December I know that when it’s over, it’s over. The weather moves from cool to cold. It doesn’t get terribly cold here – most of the time – but January and February can be unpleasant. I go back to work on January 3 and other than the MLK holiday on January 15, there are no significant holidays until Memorial Day. There are important things to do at the first of the calendar year, but for the most part they aren’t the fun things we have in the fourth quarter.
But October is fun, and more fun is coming.
This is where I’m supposed to write something deep and spiritual about the Wheel of the Year and the need for seasons, about balancing the dark and the light, about the need for rest and the need for work. I’ll do that another day.
For now, this is the first day of October. October is the best month, and I’m going to enjoy it.