Introducing children to autumn

Introducing children to autumn

Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of year and gives us lots of opportunity to share things with our children. You can enjoy long walks up until the end of October when there is still good weather, excursions in the autumn countryside to experience the special colours and smells, and get in the mood for a family atmosphere in the house when the cold weather arrives.

Autumn also has its distinct Greek habits and traditions. Would you like to learn more about this time of year and, in turn, inspire your little ones to love autumn?

Septem...ber

“The grape harvester’s work is worth it”
The first month of autumn took its name from the number septem (seven), as it was the seventh month of the ancient ten-month Roman calendar.
It is associated with the start of agricultural work and has many Greek names: "Trygitis" (Harvester) because harvesting is the main agricultural work undertaken in September, "Ortycologist" (from the Greek word ortyki meaning “quail”) because quails pass through Greece as they migrate south, and "Stavritis" (from the Greek word “stavros” meaning “cross”, as the celebration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross falls on September 14th.
In the past, September was considered to be so important that it was celebrated in the same ways as New Year. Many customs stem from this celebration, some of which survive to this day.
In Kos, on the evening of August 31st, the islanders "astronomoun"(from the Greek word “asteri” meaning “star”), i.e. they leave a watermelon, a pomegranate, a clove of garlic, a quince, a leaf from the "Hippocratic tree" and a bunch of grapes out under the stars.
On the morning of "New Year’s Day" they get up before the sunrise and take the “star-gazing” food down to the sea. They keep it on the iconostasis for a year, and then throw it into the sea and dip the new food in the water. On the way back they stop at the “plane tree” and hug its trunk so they can share its strength and its age. People hang the “New Year” in their homes with their icons, as a symbol of abundance for the new year.

October’s “Little Summer”

“Whoever sows in October will have plenty on the threshing floor”
In the old days, people used to call October the “Little Summer”, as an affectionate farewell to autumn when it gave way to winter. October took its name from the Latin word Octo (eight), because it was the eighth month in the ancient Roman calendar which had ten months.
October is strongly associated with cultivating and sowing fields, which is why it is also called “Spartos”. Preparing for sowing was an important process as farming families’ fortunes for the year ahead depended on good crops.
October is also known as “Ai-Demetrias” because of the major feast of Saint Demetrius which takes place on the 26th of the month. It is on this day that the new wine is first opened and tasted.

The “mixed-up” month of November

“When November starts, winter is coming slowly but surely”
The third, and last, month of autumn gets its name from the Latin word November (novem = nine).
In folk tradition November is known as “Brocharis” (from the Greek word “brochi” which means rain)as it is the rainiest month of the year. It is also known as “Sporias” (from the Greek word “spora” meaning sowing) as it is the best month for sowing. They also call it “Chameno” (from the Greek word “chamenos” meaning lost) because of its short days, and “Anakatemeno” (which means mixed up in Greek) due to the unstable weather.
The olive harvest begins in November. The olive harvest was, and still is, a ritual: the trees are hit in a way that does not damage the branches, but which makes the riper olives (which make the best oil) fall off the trees. In the old days, the final day of the olive harvest was a feast day with food and singing, where everyone wished the housewives "fine oil, fine wealth".