Autumn

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Autumn, also known as fall in North American English, [1] is one of the four temperate seasons. Autumn marks the transition from summer to winter, in September (Northern Hemisphere) or March (Southern Hemisphere), when the duration of daylight becomes noticeably shorter and the temperature cools considerably. One of its main features in temperate climates is the shedding of leaves from deciduous trees.

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Some cultures regard the autumnal equinox as "mid-autumn", while others with a longer temperature lag treat it as the start of autumn. [2] Meteorologists (and most of the temperate countries in the southern hemisphere) [3] use a definition based on Gregorian calendar months, with autumn being September, October, and November in the northern hemisphere, [4] and March, April, and May in the southern hemisphere. Persians celebrate the beginning of the autumn as Mehregan to honor Mithra (Mehr).

In North America, autumn traditionally starts with the September equinox (21 to 24 September) [5] and ends with the winter solstice (21 or 22 December). [6] Popular culture in the United States associates Labor Day, the first Monday in September, as the end of summer and the start of autumn; certain summer traditions, such as wearing white, are discouraged after that date. [7] As daytime and nighttime temperatures decrease, trees change color and then shed their leaves. [8] In traditional East Asian solar term, autumn starts on or around 8 August and ends on or about 7 November. In Ireland, the autumn months according to the national meteorological service, Met Éireann, are September, October and November. [9] However, according to the Irish Calendar, which is based on ancient Gaelic traditions, autumn lasts throughout the months of August, September and October, or possibly a few days later, depending on tradition.[ citation needed ] The names of the months in Manx Gaelic are similarly based on autumn covering August, September and October.

In southern hemisphere countries such as Argentina, [10] [11] Australia [12] and New Zealand, which tend to base their seasonal calendars meteorologically rather than astronomically [13] , autumn officially begins on 1 March and ends on 31 May.

Etymology

Autumnal scene with yellow, orange and red leaves on trees and fallen on the ground Dulmen, Wildpark -- 2014 -- 3808 color balanced.jpg
Autumnal scene with yellow, orange and red leaves on trees and fallen on the ground

The word autumn comes from the ancient Etruscan root autu- and has within it connotations of the passing of the year. [14] It was borrowed by the neighbouring Romans, and became the Latin word autumnus. [15] After the Roman era, the word continued to be used as the Old French word autompne (automne in modern French) or autumpne in Middle English, [16] and was later normalised to the original Latin. In the Medieval period, there are rare examples of its use as early as the 12th century, but by the 16th century, it was in common use.

Before the 16th century, harvest was the term usually used to refer to the season, as it is common in other West Germanic languages to this day (cf. Dutch herfst, German Herbst and Scots hairst). However, as more people gradually moved from working the land to living in towns, the word harvest lost its reference to the time of year and came to refer only to the actual activity of reaping, and autumn, as well as fall, began to replace it as a reference to the season. [17] [18]

The alternative word fall for the season traces its origins to old Germanic languages. The exact derivation is unclear, with the Old English fiæll or feallan and the Old Norse fall all being possible candidates. However, these words all have the meaning "to fall from a height" and are clearly derived either from a common root or from each other. The term came to denote the season in 16th-century England, a contraction of Middle English expressions like "fall of the leaf" and "fall of the year". [19] Compare the origin of spring from "spring of the leaf" and "spring of the year". [20]

During the 17th century, English emigration to the British colonies in North America was at its peak, and the new settlers took the English language with them. While the term fall gradually became nearly obsolete in Britain, it became the more common term in North America. [21]

The name backend, a once common name for the season in Northern England, has today been largely replaced by the name autumn. [22]

Associations

Harvest

Harvest straw bales in a field of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany Harvest Straw Bales in Schleswig-Holstein.jpg
Harvest straw bales in a field of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Association with the transition from warm to cold weather, and its related status as the season of the primary harvest, has dominated its themes and popular images. In Western cultures, personifications of autumn are usually pretty, well-fed females adorned with fruits, vegetables and grains that ripen at this time. Many cultures feature autumnal harvest festivals, often the most important on their calendars. Still extant echoes of these celebrations are found in the autumn Thanksgiving holiday of the United States and Canada, and the Jewish Sukkot holiday with its roots as a full-moon harvest festival of "tabernacles" (living in outdoor huts around the time of harvest). [ citation needed ] There are also the many North American Indian festivals tied to harvest of ripe foods gathered in the wild, the Chinese Mid-Autumn or Moon festival, and many others. The predominant mood of these autumnal celebrations is a gladness for the fruits of the earth mixed with a certain melancholy linked to the imminent arrival of harsh weather.

This view is presented in English poet John Keats' poem To Autumn , where he describes the season as a time of bounteous fecundity, a time of 'mellow fruitfulness'.

In North America, while most foods are harvested during the autumn, foods particularly associated with the season include pumpkins (which are integral parts of both Thanksgiving and Halloween) and apples, which are used to make the seasonal beverage apple cider.

Melancholia

Autumn, especially in poetry, has often been associated with melancholia. The possibilities and opportunities of summer are gone, and the chill of winter is on the horizon. Skies turn grey, the amount of usable daylight drops rapidly, and many people turn inward, both physically and mentally. [23] It has been referred to as an unhealthy season. [24]

Similar examples may be found in Irish poet William Butler Yeats' poem The Wild Swans at Coole where the maturing season that the poet observes symbolically represents his own ageing self. Like the natural world that he observes, he too has reached his prime and now must look forward to the inevitability of old age and death. French poet Paul Verlaine's " Chanson d'automne " ("Autumn Song") is likewise characterised by strong, painful feelings of sorrow. Keats' To Autumn , written in September 1819, echoes this sense of melancholic reflection, but also emphasises the lush abundance of the season. The song "Autumn Leaves", based on the French song "Les Feuilles mortes", uses the melancholic atmosphere of the season and the end of summer as a metaphor for the mood of being separated from a loved one. [25]

Halloween

Halloween pumpkins Pumpkins-2009.jpg
Halloween pumpkins
Halloween pumpkins Halloween pumpkins.jpg
Halloween pumpkins

Autumn is associated with Halloween (influenced by Samhain, a Celtic autumn festival), [26] and with it a widespread marketing campaign that promotes it. Halloween, October 31, is in autumn in the northern hemisphere. The television, film, book, costume, home decoration, and confectionery industries use this time of year to promote products closely associated with such a holiday, with promotions going from late August or early September to 31 October, since their themes rapidly lose strength once the holiday ends, and advertising starts concentrating on Christmas.

Other associations

Pumpkin pie is commonly served on and around Thanksgiving in North America Pumpkin-Pie-Whole-Slice.jpg
Pumpkin pie is commonly served on and around Thanksgiving in North America
All Saints' Day at a cemetery in Sanok - flowers and lit candles are placed to honor the memory of deceased relatives. Poland, 1 November 2011 01259 All Saints Day Sanok, 2011.jpg
All Saints' Day at a cemetery in Sanok – flowers and lit candles are placed to honor the memory of deceased relatives. Poland, 1 November 2011

In some parts of the northern hemisphere, autumn has a strong association with the end of summer holiday and the start of a new school year, particularly for children in primary and secondary education. "Back to School" advertising and preparations usually occurs in the weeks leading to the beginning of autumn.

Easter falls in autumn in the southern hemisphere.

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated in Canada, in the United States, in some of the Caribbean islands and in Liberia. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, and around the same part of the year in other places. Similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany and Japan.

Television stations and networks, particularly in North America, traditionally begin their regular seasons in their autumn, with new series and new episodes of existing series debuting mostly during late September or early October (series that debut outside the fall season are usually known as mid-season replacements). A sweeps period takes place in November to measure Nielsen Ratings.

American football is played almost exclusively in the autumn months; at the high school level, seasons run from late August through early November, with some playoff games and holiday rivalry contests being played as late as Thanksgiving. In many American states, the championship games take place in early December. College football's regular season runs from September through November, while the main professional circuit, the National Football League, plays from September through to early January. Summer sports, such as stock car racing, Canadian football, Major League Soccer, and Major League Baseball, wrap up their seasons in early to late autumn; MLB's championship World Series is known popularly as the "Fall Classic". [27] (Amateur baseball is usually finished by August.) Likewise, professional winter sports, such as ice hockey, basketball, and most leagues of association football in Europe, are in the early stages of their seasons during autumn; American college basketball and college ice hockey play teams outside their athletic conferences during the late autumn before their in-conference schedules begin in winter.

The Christian religious holidays of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day are observed in autumn in the Northern hemisphere.

Since 1997, Autumn has been one of the top 100 names for girls in the United States. [28]

In Indian mythology, autumn is considered to be the preferred season for the goddess of learning Saraswati, who is also known by the name of "goddess of autumn" (Sharada).

In Asian mysticism, Autumn is associated with the element of metal, and subsequently with the colour white, the White Tiger of the West, and death and mourning.

Tourism

Maple leaves changing colour by a creek. Maple Trees by Creek.jpg
Maple leaves changing colour by a creek.

Although colour change in leaves occurs wherever deciduous trees are found, coloured autumn foliage is noted in various regions of the world: most of North America, Eastern Asia (including China, Korea, and Japan), Europe, the forest of Patagonia, eastern Australia and New Zealand's South Island.

Eastern Canada and New England are famous for their autumnal foliage, [29] [30] and this attracts major tourism (worth billions of US dollars) for the regions. [31] [32]

Allegories of autumn in art

See also

Related Research Articles

Equinox Astronomical event where the Sun is directly above the Earths equator

An equinox is commonly regarded as the instant of time when the plane of Earth's equator passes through the center of the Sun. This occurs twice each year, around 20 March and 23 September. In other words, it is the moment at which the center of the visible Sun is directly above the equator.

Full moon Lunar phase: completely illuminated disc

The full moon is the lunar phase when the Moon appears fully illuminated from Earth's perspective. This occurs when Earth is located between the Sun and the Moon. This means that the lunar hemisphere facing Earth – the near side – is completely sunlit and appears as a circular disk. The full moon occurs roughly once a month.

Lammas

Lammas Day, is a holiday celebrated in some English-speaking countries in the Northern Hemisphere on 1 August. It is a festival to mark the annual wheat harvest, and is the first harvest festival of the year. On this day it was customary to bring to church a loaf made from the new crop, which began to be harvested at Lammastide, which falls at the halfway point between the summer Solstice and Autumn September Equinox.

A solstice is an event occurring when the Sun appears to reach its most northerly or southerly excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. Two solstices occur annually, around June 21 and December 21. In many countries, the seasons of the year are determined by reference to the solstices and the equinoxes.

Summer the warmest season of the year, in the northern hemisphere from June to August and in the southern hemisphere from December to February.

Summer is the hottest of the four temperate seasons, falling after spring and before autumn. At the summer solstice, there is earliest sunrise and latest sunset, and the days are longest and the nights are shortest, with day length decreasing as the season progresses after the solstice. The date of the beginning of summer varies according to climate, tradition, and culture. When it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere, it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and vice versa.

Wheel of the Year Annual cycle of seasonal festivals observed by many modern Pagans

The Wheel of the Year is an annual cycle of seasonal festivals, observed by many modern Pagans, consisting of the year's chief solar events and the midpoints between them. While names for each festival vary among diverse pagan traditions, syncretic treatments often refer to the four solar events as "quarter days" and the four midpoint events as "cross-quarter days", particularly in Wicca. Differing sects of modern Paganism also vary regarding the precise timing of each celebration, based on distinctions such as lunar phase and geographic hemisphere.

Winter One of the Earths four temperate seasons, occurring between autumn and spring

Winter is the coldest season of the year in polar and temperate zones. It occurs after autumn and before spring in each year. Winter is caused by the axis of the Earth in that hemisphere being oriented away from the Sun. Different cultures define different dates as the start of winter, and some use a definition based on weather. When it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere, and vice versa. In many regions, winter is associated with snow and freezing temperatures. The moment of winter solstice is when the Sun's elevation with respect to the North or South Pole is at its most negative value. The day on which this occurs has the shortest day and the longest night, with day length increasing and night length decreasing as the season progresses after the solstice. The earliest sunset and latest sunrise dates outside the polar regions differ from the date of the winter solstice, however, and these depend on latitude, due to the variation in the solar day throughout the year caused by the Earth's elliptical orbit.

Autumnal Equinox Day is a public holiday in Japan that usually occurs on September 22 or 23, the date of Southward equinox in Japan Standard Time. Due to the necessity of recent astronomical measurements, the date of the holiday is not officially declared until February of the previous year. Autumnal Equinox Day became a public holiday in 1948. In 1947 and before, it was the date of Shūki kōreisai (秋季皇霊祭), an event relating to Shintoism. Like other holidays, this holiday was repackaged as a non-religious holiday for the sake of separation of religion and state in Japan's postwar constitution.

Spring (season) One of the Earths four temperate seasons, occurring between winter and summer

Spring, also known as springtime is one of the four temperate seasons, following winter and preceding summer. There are various technical definitions of spring, but local usage of the term varies according to local climate, cultures and customs. When it is spring in the Northern Hemisphere, it is autumn in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa. At the spring equinox, days and nights are approximately twelve hours long, with day length increasing and night length decreasing as the season progresses.

Ember days 3 days set aside for fasting and prayer in each season

In the liturgical calendar of the Western Christian churches, ember days are four separate sets of three days within the same week—specifically, the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday—roughly equidistant in the circuit of the year, that are set aside for fasting and prayer. These days set apart for special prayer and fasting were considered especially suitable for the ordination of clergy. The Ember Days are known in Latin as the quatuor anni tempora, or formerly as the jejunia quatuor temporum.

Seasonal lag is the phenomenon whereby the date of maximum average air temperature at a geographical location on a planet is delayed until some time after the date of maximum insolation. This also applies to the minimum temperature being delayed until some time after the date of minimum insolation.

September equinox the equinox on the earth when the Sun appears to leave the nothern hemisphere and cross the celestial equator

The September equinox is the moment when the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading southward. Due to differences between the calendar year and the tropical year, the September equinox can occur at any time between September 21 and 24.

March equinox the equinox on the earth when the Sun appears to leave the southern hemisphere and cross the celestial equator

The March equinox or Northward equinox is the equinox on the Earth when the subsolar point appears to leave the Southern Hemisphere and cross the celestial equator, heading northward as seen from Earth. The March equinox is known as the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere and as the autumnal equinox in the Southern.

Christmas creep is a merchandising phenomenon in which merchants and retailers introduce Christmas-themed merchandise or decorations before the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, which in the United States is on the day after Thanksgiving. The term was first used in the mid-1980s.

Thanksgiving Holiday in North America and Liberia

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in the United States, Canada, some of the Caribbean islands, and Liberia. It began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. Similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany and Japan. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and Brazil, and around the same part of the year in other places. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well.

Lists of holidays by various categorizations.

A season is a division of the year marked by changes in weather, ecology, and the amount of daylight. On Earth, seasons are the result of Earth's orbit around the Sun and Earth's axial tilt relative to the ecliptic plane. In temperate and polar regions, the seasons are marked by changes in the intensity of sunlight that reaches the Earth's surface, variations of which may cause animals to undergo hibernation or to migrate, and plants to be dormant. Various cultures define the number and nature of seasons based on regional variations.

Autumnal equinox or variation, may refer to:

Harvest Festival (United Kingdom)

The Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving is a celebration of the harvest and food grown on the land in the United Kingdom. It is about giving thanks for a successful crop yield over the year as winter starts to approach. The festival is also about giving thanks for all the good and positive things in our lives such as family and friendships.

References

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.
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