The month of novembre (November) takes its name from the Latin word novem (nine) because it was the ninth month in the Roman calendar.
On the 1st of November we celebrate Tutti i Santi (All Saints), which is a national holiday. When I was a child the 2nd of November, Tutti i Defunti (All Souls – literally: all the deceased) also used to be a national holiday, but now it’s just a normal working day. I don’t know why the government decided at some point to cancel this holiday and to leave Tutti i Santi instead, but for the majority of Italians i Defunti is still the most important of the two festivals. In fact people spend days tiding up and polishing the tombs of their beloved departed, adorning them with big bunches of fresh flowers, usually crisantemi (chrysanthemum). Many Italians will travel long distances to their places of origin in order to visit the tombs of their parents, grandparents and other relatives.
On the 4th of November we celebrate the Giornata delle Forze Armate e dell’Unità Nazionale (Army Forces and National Unification Day). It commemorates the end of the First World War and the unification of Trentino Alto Adige and Friuli Venezia Giulia in the North East of Italy, which were previously under Austrian dominion, with the Regno d’Italia (Italian Kingdom). When I was a child this day was also a national holiday, and we used to look forward to visiting le caserme (the barracks), which were open to the public for the occasion.
On the 11th of November we celebrate San Martino (Saint Martin’s day). In the past, when Italy was mostly an agricultural country, this date was very important for many people, because it marked the end of the annual contracts for farm labourers. If the landlord didn’t renew the contract the farm labourers had to move elsewhere, together with their families and belongings, in the hope of finding another job. You can read more about this in my post Facciamo San Martino
A novembre i grani seminati e i raccolti rincasati – In November the grains are sowed and the crops stored away
In novembre va in montagna e abbacchia la castagna – In November go into the mountains and shake down the chestnuts
A novembre con le foglie, cadon giù capelli e voglie – In November together with the leaves, hair and desires drop
Giorno bello e giorno brutto, a novembre muore tutto – Fine day or bad day, in November everything dies
Per i Santi, manicotti e guanti – For All Saints day (1st of November), wear muffs and gloves
Caldarroste e nuovo vino tieni pronti a S.Martino – Roasted chestnuts and new wine, have them ready for S.Martin’s day (11th of November)
Molta pioggia in novembre, molto vento in dicembre – If November is very rainy, December will be very windy