September 27, 2012

October – The Days are Getting Shorter

By Eloise Graham

As we enter into the last quarter of the year, our hours of sunlight decrease. Sunrise on October 1 is 7 a.m. and sunset, 6:43 p.m. That gives us 11 hours and 43 minutes of sunlight. But, by October 31, we only have 10 hours and 23 minutes. On that day, sunrise is at 7:34 a.m. and sunset is 5:57 p.m. But, look on the bright side (pun intended!) – in Anchorage, Alaska, sunrise on October 31 is 9:27 a.m.

October is another month that has two birthstones. The opal is what most people associate with October. This gemstone gets its name from the Greek word Opallos, meaning “to change color.” Opals range from a milky white to black with flashes of yellow, orange, green, red and blue. The other birthstone is the Tourmaline, first thought to be a bright pink color, but others have now been mined in a various array of colors. This gem has become a favorite of jewelry designers and gem collectors because of its wide variety of colors.

The flower for October is the Calendula or Marigold. The idea of a month having a birth-flower probably dates to early Roman times. The Romans initiated the idea of celebrations of birthdays. Gems had already been assigned to certain months and were a desired gift to receive. But, not all had access or means to give gemstones as a gift, so flowers were given. The flower that bloomed at that certain month would then be considered the “Birth-flower.”

The gesture of giving flowers to special people probably originated in the Victorian Era. Public displays or words of affection were prohibited, so a suiter would send his lady friend flowers that would convey a hidden meaning. Marigolds symbolized sorrow or sympathy, so the message would be, “My thoughts are with you.”

Enjoy the changing of the colors of all the fall foliage, enjoy the waning hours of sunlight as our days get shorter, enjoy the fall flowers as their deep colors brighten the gardens and enjoy all that October has to offer. Until next month…