September is like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it. Its name translates from the Latin ’septem’ meaning ‘seven’, but it’s the ninth month of the year I hear you say. Very simply, the original Roman calendar started in March, therefore making it the seventh month back then.
For most of us it means settling back into a routine, mainly work or school. It’s an abrupt return to normality as the summer holidays reluctantly fade into the past. If you have children, it might mean a new academic year, a new school, the impending Halloween, then Guy Fawkes Night and of course, all things Christmas approach with speed. A fraught time for most parents; an odd mix of stress and excitement.
September brings in the tail end of the summer warmth, the shorter days after the Autumn Equinox on the 22nd. Leaves start falling, turning the landscape from green to brilliant shades of red and gold. The mighty chestnut trees shed their fruits and I love the fact that children still find joy in collecting the shiniest conkers. Apples are picked and pies are made. Colder climes draw near but we’re desperate to hold onto those last days of sun, willing it to warm our bones for a little longer. As we turn our backs to the sunny times we resign ourselves to the fact that autumn is here and winter hangs on its coat tails. Harvest festivals are aplenty, a time of thanksgiving since pagan times. Nowadays, a time when churches are filled with food and traditionally distributed by school children to those in need.
September is also my birthday month. For some, birthdays are tedious, another chalked up year, another wrinkle, another ache, a realisation that we’re ageing. What is there to celebrate? For me personally, there is much to be joyous about. I readily accept the fact that I’m a year older, a year wiser, another year that I’ve spent walking the earth and loving my loved ones.
There is, however, an irony to my plaudit of September. I was born on the 11th day and on this very afternoon 16 years ago, my birthday became one of the saddest days of recent times. The world watched in horror and then mourned the lives of those lost in the Twin Towers terrorist attack. People can’t help but offer commiserations when they realise that 9/11 is my birthday. Even after all these years I feel a sense of betrayal; an unease as the day looms and I attempt to celebrate the most important day in my calendar.
Usually, it’s January which heralds a renewal with new year resolutions which are seldom kept. I find that September has a similar effect but on a more thought provoking and soul searching level. We acknowledge that another year has almost passed, we reflect, thoughts of the past fleeting months flood our memories. We ponder the good and the bad; achievements, failures, celebrations, bereavements, holidays and the list could go on. Here we have the ideal opportunity to take stock of our lives.
All in all, it’s a wonderful time of year. I hate Marmite but I love September.