How Did October Get Its Name?

Harvest festivals and haunted hayrides, corn mazes and candy corn ... for some people, the mere utterance of "October" exhumes a whole plethora of frightful festivities that make Spooky Season one of the most anticipated times of the year. Halloween's mother month happens when autumn is in full swing — in the northern hemisphere, anyway, where it will begin on September 22 this year (per Time and Date). By the time October rolls around, the leaves paint the world around us a rustic shade of gold. Really, it's a wonderful installment in the holiday season. 

In light of that, have you ever wondered where each month got its name? How long has September been September and how long has October been October? Why do we bother naming the months at all?

The labels we attach to each 30 or so span of days clearly mean something to us, but what did it mean to those who gave the months their names in the first place? According to Almanac, the 10th month out of the year got its title back in Ancient Rome — long before scary jack-o'-lanterns were adorning porches. 

October was originally the eighth month

Before the Romans switched to a 12-month calendar, October was actually the eighth month out of the year — octo being the Latin word for eight. However, after transitioning over to the system of an annual dozen months, it became the 10th month, but by then the name had stuck and October never lost its title (via Britannica). Much like those donning costumes to celebrate Halloween on the 31st day of the month, one could argue that October also wears a misleading disguise via its name.

Variations arose throughout the years in different regions of the world. In Old England, October was referred to as Winmonath, which meant "wine month." They also called it Winterfylleth, or "Winter Full Moon," because October's iconic full moon meant the start of winter for the English at the time. According to the weather lore back then, "If October brings heavy frosts and winds, then will January and February be mild" (per Almanac).