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Month of September

Sept is a prefix with Latin roots meaning "seventh". It may seem strange that the ninth month (September) should have a prefix meaning seven. This came about because in ancient Rome there were only ten months and the first month was March. When Numa Pompilius, the Roman King, changed the calendar in about 700 B.C. he added two months. The Roman Senate rolled back the date of the New Year in 153 B.C., but the senators did not bother to change the names of the numbered months to conform with their new position in the calendar. When the name "September" came to England via Old French, it replaced hærfestmonað, which refers to the month of the harvest.

September Calendar

It is well known that "thirty days hath September..." Indeed, it originally had 30 days, until Numa's reform, when it lost a day, which was restored when Julius Caesar again revised the Calendar in 46 B.C.

Labor Day occurs on the first Monday of September. The first Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882. This holiday was observed on the Central Labor Union of New York's own authority. Local governmental recognition began about 3 years later. In 1894 the day was established by Congress as a national holiday. The day was set aside to recognize and commemorate the accomplishments of American labor. It is now observed primarily by barbecues and mini-vacations. In the minds of most Americans, it is the unofficial end of the summer vacation season, when children and college students return to school and the weather begins to turn cooler.

The autumnal equinox occurs during this month (on or about the 22nd of September). It is the time in the Earth's revolution about the sun that the sun is directly over the equator. This causes the day and night to be exactly equal. From this point in time the sun will continue to move south, cooling the northern regions and warming the southern hemisphere.

As with other months, various groups have adopted the month for their own. September has been designated as "Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month", "International Strategic Thinking Month", "National Potato Month", "Sea Cadet Month", and "Update Your Resume Month". September also contains "National Waffle Week", Tolkien Week, and "National Clean Hands Week" (let us hope these folks are keeping their hands clean the rest of the time as well). Many days are also observed in September, among them, "V-J Day", "Remember Freedom Day", "Jewish New Year", and "Love Note Day".

In song and story September is thought of as a "mellow month". One wistful song written by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones (released in 1960s) about aging and lost youth begins:

Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh, so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a tender and callow fellow.

The birthstone for September is the sapphire.

Next Page: The Month of October


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