October is here, flush with falling leaves, chilling weather, and growing anticipation for the holiday season. The tenth month by our Gregorian calendar, October shares a root with octopus andoctothorpe—the Latin octo-, meaning “eight.” In the Roman calendar, which had only ten months, October was month eight, as January and February hadn’t yet been added to the calendar. Like its neighboring months September,November, and December, its numerical name stuck; even after Julius Caesar expanded the calendar year from ten months to twelve. October entered Old English via Old French, replacing the English vernacular term Winterfylleð.
Children may look forward to October for Halloween, which falls at the month’s close, but beer-lovers may be more excited for what awaits them at the beginning of the month—Oktoberfest. This long-standing beer festival has gained popularity around the world, but the true Oktoberfest is located in Munich, Germany, where the festival has been held since 1810. The Oktoberfest celebration marks the beginning of a new beer-brewing season. Historically, October through March are the optimal beer-brewing months because the colder weather keeps the beer from spoiling. It has long been a tradition to polish off the remaining beer from the year to prepare the casks for a new brew in October. Although the seasonal climate is less relevant to breweries today, the beer festival of Oktoberfest remains a vibrant tradition.
Today the majority of Munich’s Oktoberfest actually takes place in late September, but this is perfectly acceptable logic considering that the root of our tenth month’s name means “eight”
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