by Nick Brunt
November is the month everybody loves to hate. According to its many detractors, November has no identity, no real holidays, and simply serves as a buffer between the more charismatic and noteworthy months of Halloween and Christmas. However, in my opinion, these people are objectively wrong. By delving deeper into this disparaged month, it is abundantly clear November is so much more than the month equivalent of Christmas Eve.
The month of November gets its name from the Latin novem, meaning nine, so naturally it is the eleventh month of the year in the Gregorian calendar. This confusion arises from the decision of the Romans to add the months of January and February to the beginning of their calendars in approximately 700 B.C.E, probably reasoning “It would be too confusing at this point to rename the other months”, a laissez-faire sentiment echoed by all subsequent calendar makers over the past 27 centuries. And thus we have the misnomer of November, much like how KFC’s name alludes to their long-abandoned ingredient chicken, and how the activist front SSMU was once a student’s society.
Despite the common misconception, November does have one official and important holiday: Remembrance Day, a statutory holiday for every Canadian meant to honor the sacrifices of our armed forces around the world. Unless, of course, you live in the provincial backwaters of Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Ontario or Quebec, whose residents honor those sacrifices by going to work and school like any other day. November also starts the day after Halloween, which is arguably as much fun as the holiday itself. As a child, you enjoyed Halloween in October but the real joy, the candy, in November. Nowadays, you can enjoy the parties of Halloweek in October, and the hangover in November.
In addition, there are a plethora of unofficial holidays populating this oft-ignored month. Who could forget the ridiculous Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day, Men Make Dinner Day, World Peace Day, or American Thanksgiving? Holidays need not be objectively real to be enjoyed. Also not to be overlooked are two important celebrations both on the fourth Friday of the month: the widely observed and celebrated Buy Nothing Day, and its little-known cousin Black Friday.
Many of the complaints about November stem from its purportedly awful weather. It really does start to get cold around this time of year, but unlike respectable months such as January, November can’t fully commit to below-freezing temperatures and all the fun winter activities we get as a result (much like the king of cold-weather flip-flopping, Toronto). It’s the conflicted month in which we merrily celebrate the fall of that first downy snowflake, while silently repressing memories of slipping on ice and stepping in semi-frozen slush last February. If you’re about to lose your Canadian winter virginity, November is about the right time to track down your first polar bear and sew a real winter coat from its fur. If you instead let someone else do the dirty work and bought a Canada Goose jacket, that’s all right because not everyone can survive the winter anyway. And if you’re still not ready for the cold, just crank up that thermostat and bask in the inevitable warmth of the tragic, catastrophic changes in weather patterns caused by anthropogenic global warming.
If you are a political junkie, November is certainly a special time. This year, Canada’s new prime minister, “Just(in)-not-Ready” Trudeau, was sworn in on November 4th. Little known fact: Trudeau is both the son of former Prime Minister Pierre-Elliot, and an alumnus of our very own McGill University. You would think such important facts about our new leader would be common knowledge, but unfortunately we live in an age of misinformation. Rumor also has it that Trudeau’s predecessor, (former) conservative supreme leader and “movies and TV shows” enthusiast Stephen Harper, is a closeted Concordia grad.
For the Americans in our midst, November is a month of elections as well. In only a short period of 365 days, American oligarchs will take to the polls to decide which old man (or person sharing the name of a famous old man – looking at you Hillary) will take their bribes for the next four years. This unique, democratic™ voting system is colloquially known as the Electoral College. This system has its roots in frontier days, when all white Americans would take to the polls to decide which old, white man would best subjugate minorities rather than court their votes.
Even those who eschew hygiene can find something to love about the much-maligned penultimate month. They have the unique opportunity to grow enough socially tolerated (if not really acceptable) facial hair to disgust their peers, disappoint their parents, and appear as though they are in some small way, shape, or form contributing to a serious social cause. Throwback to the days when men were men, razors had a single blade, and bathing was a monthly occurrence! Movember is like that one extra-long hair on the neck of a pre-teen: it’s in the right place and it has the right idea, but it has taken things way too far.
If you still don’t appreciate unloved November even after all this, take heart in the knowledge that it won’t last long. If anything, it will fly by faster than that two-hour midterm you failed last week. According to my advanced knuckle metric, November is deadlocked in a four-way tie for shortest month, if you, as most single people, refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of the dwarf month, February. November is, after all, the real month of love: every year, the Canadian and American birth rate peaks in August, precisely nine months after our little unsung calendrical hero. Despite the onset of winter and four months of cold, the complete darkness at four o’clock, and the beginning of grueling sixty-day holiday season, it seems everyone still finds a way to enjoy the great month of November. And so should you.