Fall Back in November

November 2009Daylight Savings Time is more than just the annoying day on which we all realize that we have forgotten how to change our fancy clocks. Although the concept was first advanced by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, it was first implemented in Germany and Austria in 1916 as a way to save fuel and electricity. Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Turkey quickly followed.

The adage used to remember which way the clocks need to be turned is "Spring forward, Fall back."

Although the concept still has many detractors, studies show that during Daylight Savings Time, violent crime does down between 10% and 13%. Those who would like to do away with the practice cite numerous reasons, including those who suffer from sleep disorders, a drop in work productivity as workers adjust to the changes, and the fact that chickens, who lay eggs only during daylight hours, chaos reigns for several weeks after both time changes.

There are those who point out that there is no actual savings of daylight, but rather a moving of when daylight occurs, but most of them will be moving their clocks backwards on Sunday, November 1, 2009. Those in the United States who will be maintaining the continuity of their daylight times include Hawaii and most of Arizona -- except for the Navajo Nation, which does observe the practice -- American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Veterans Day is the day that is specifically reserved for us to honor everyone who has served in the military in times of peace as well as times of war. In the United States, that day was originally November 11, which was the day that World War I ended. The Treaty of Versailles, which was actually signed in the summer of 1919, codified the agreement which ended the fighting on "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month," November 11, 1918. President Woodrow Wilson officially declared the observance of the holiday in 1920 as a day to reflect upon our gratitude to those who fought that war, both living and dead. The occasion is also celebrated by Great Britain, and millions of people traditionally participate in a two-minute moment of silence at 11:00 in the morning to remember the millions of people who died in war and as a result of wars.

Thanksgiving, whose origins are disputed, is officially celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. We all know, of course, about the history involving the Puritan pilgrims, the Wampanoagan Indians, and the harvest for which gratitude was being expressed. Not many of us, however, know about the Pagan celebrations, including the Roman celebration Cerelia, which honored Ceres, the goddess of the corn and the Celtic Lughnasadh and Mabon which celebrated the first and the second harvests.

Accounts of the first American Thanksgiving are few, but according to those accounts, the meal included venison, corn, turkey, fish, and wheat bread.

More relevant to many is the fact that the end of the Thanksgiving meal signals the beginning of the commercial Christmas season.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the busiest shopping day of the year. It also begins the holiday shopping season. The term "Black Friday" is thought to have originated in 1965 in Philadelphia when the police department there termed it thus due to the crowded sidewalks and huge traffic jams as shoppers advanced upon stores downtown. Also true is the fact that many retailers finally get "out of the red" or turn a profit on that day. In accounting jargon, it could be said that merchants go from operating in the red and go into the black.

Election Day in the United States is the Tuesday after the first Monday of November. November 2 is the earliest possible date, and November 8 is the latest. Elections for President are held every four years, while Americans cast their ballots for senators and representatives every two years. Most state and local municipalities hold elections on that day in other years as well. Early November was originally chosen because the harvest had already been done by then while the harsh winters and blizzards were after that time. Tuesday was the option Congress went with because it did not interfere with the Sabbath (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, depending upon which religion one is) or with market day, which was usually Wednesday.

National Pet Cancer Awareness Month is observed for the fifth year in a row. People are asked to realize that cancer is not a disease which strikes only humans. It is, in fact, the number one disease-related pet killer. In 2005, it was clear to many veterinarians that the diagnosis of cancer surprised most pet owners. The most common form of cancer in pets is lymphosarcoma, and tumors of the liver, eyelid, or spleen are not uncommon. Pet owners should be vigilant, checking for lumps sores that don't heal, difficulty eating, and changes in their pets' weight or appetite.

National Bible Week is the week of Thanksgiving each year, so it moves around. It is observed November 22 through November 29 this year. First celebrated in 1941, this week is designed to raise the nation's interest in the importance of reading the Bible. Every President since Franklin D. Roosevelt has issued a message to kick off the week. Some of the ways people celebrate the observance include distributing free bibles to people in the community, help out in soup kitchens, and many people recommit their lives to God.
November birthdays include those of Abigail Adams, Jodie Foster, Prince Charles, Voltaire, Martin Luther, and Jimi Hendrix.

Other famous people born this month are Kurt Vonnegut, Bruce Lee, Sir Winston Churchill, Condoleezza Rice, Pat Tillman, Senator Joseph McCarthy, Indira Gandhi, and Billy Graham.

Additional resources relating to the month of November:

  • Daylight Saving Time - Learn more about the history, controversy, and countries that partake in daylight savings time.
  • US Veteran's Day - Presents information about attending the national ceremony in Washington DC, as well as ceremonies in other regions.  Includes a teacher's guide for students and updates on Veteran's Day speakers.
  • National Bible Week - Signature event for the National Bible Association, held during the week of Thanksgiving.  Provides bible verses of the day and ways to participate in the support of the bible.
  • POV: Election Day - A synopsis, video trailer, and description of the film titled "Election Day" which depicts stories of voting from 11 groups of American citizens.