November gets its name from the Latin word for nine as it used to be the ninth month of the year. After changing the clocks at the end of October, we have a bit more light in the mornings in November but it gets dark very early in the evening. Sunset is between 4 and 5 o’clock in the afternoon. The weather starts to get chilly and some days are windy or rainy. There is even a chance of snow and ice. The leaves turn brown and fall off the trees. Some animals, for example, bats and hedgehogs, go into a deep sleep for the winter in order to save energy. This is called hibernation.
In the UK, November 5th is called Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night and fireworks light up the sky. Some people just set off a few fireworks in their gardens but there are also some Bonfire Night parties with an organised firework display and a big bonfire. Typical foods on Bonfire Night are baked potatoes, sausages and toffee apples. This tradition started about 400 years ago when there was division between the Catholic and the Protestant Church. A small group of Catholics decided to blow up the Houses of Parliament in order to kill the Protestant King because they wanted to replace him with a Catholic king. However, they were caught, arrested and executed. People lit bonfires around London to celebrate that the king survived. Nowadays, people don’t think about the historical or religious significance of the day but just enjoy the fireworks!
The First World War officially ended at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. In the UK, the Sunday closest to November 11th is Remembrance Sunday. It commemorates the end of World War I and honours all the men and women who died in service to their country during the two World Wars and in all conflicts since then. On this day, there is a minute’s silence at 11 o’clock to remember the lives lost throughout history. Poppies are the traditional symbol of remembrance. People buy paper poppies and wear them as a sign of respect. The money raised helps soldiers in need and their families. People also lay poppy wreaths in cemeteries and at war memorials. Remembrance Day serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of peace and the courage displayed by those who fight for it.
In November, a lot of people start to think about Christmas, even though Christmas Day isn’t until December. The shops are already full of Christmas trees, decorations and presents to buy. Some people like to get their gift shopping done as soon as possible while others feel that November is too early to think about it! In America, the fourth Thursday in November is Thanksgiving and the day after is called Black Friday. There are lots of special offers and discounts in the shops on this day. Even though we don’t have Thanksgiving in Britain, Black Friday has recently started to become popular here too. It can be a good day to find a bargain in the shops or online.
If you would like to learn more about English life, try my e-book, "A Year in England". It contains a text like this for each month, plus a vocabulary list and reading comprehension questions. There are also bonus sections about Christmas and Easter. Click the image below or visit my shop.
About the blog