Gardens in Schönbrunn (3)
Gardens of Schönbrunn in autumn
Autumn leaf
Fallen autumn leaves

Autumn is the season after summer and before winter. In the United States this season is also called fall. In the Northern Hemisphere, it begins with the autumnal equinox in September and ends with the winter solstice in December. In the Southern Hemisphere, it runs from the autumnal equinox in March to the winter solstice in June.

Spring     Winter
  The
Seasons
 
   
   Summer           Autumn   

In many places in the temperate zone, autumn is a time for harvesting most crops. Deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves every year) lose their leaves, usually after turning yellow, red, or brown. In many countries, autumn is the time a new school year starts. In the UK, the period of school between the start of September and the end of December is known as the 'Autumn Term'.

When it is autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, it is spring in the Southern Hemisphere. When it is autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, it is spring in the Northern Hemisphere. On the Equator, autumn is very much like spring, with little difference in temperature or in weather. Autumn is a time when most animals are looking for food so they can store up for winter, because they soon will be going into hibernation. The weather gets colder and more windy. In Autumn the hours of daylight and the hours of night are the same. In autumn the weather changes all the time. The weather turns cooler and often windy and rainy.

Associations

Harvest

Harvest Straw Bales in Schleswig-Holstein
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). 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'.

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.

Halloween

Autumn is associated with Halloween (influenced by Samhain, a Celtic autumn festival), and with it a widespread marketing campaign that promotes it. Halloween 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 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-Whole-Slice
Pumpkin pie is commonly served on and around Thanksgiving in North America
01259 All Saints Day Sanok, 2011
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
Water mill Rosenmühle in Lower Saxony, Germany
Misty November evening, Germany
Flickr - Duncan~ - Autumn Rain
Autumn rain in London
Back-to-school sale at Wal-Mart, Newburgh, NY
Back to school sale at a Walmart

Autumn also 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 is 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 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 through September and October, with some playoff games and holiday rivalry contests being played as late as Thanksgiving. College football's regular season runs from September through November, while the main professional circuit, the National Football League, plays from September through December. Summer sports, such as stock car racing and Major League Baseball, wrap up their seasons in early autumn; MLB's championship World Series is known popularly as the "Fall Classic". (Amateur baseball is usually finished by August.) Likewise, professional winter sports, such as professional ice hockey, basketball and most leagues of soccer 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.

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.

In the United States, Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September.

Tourism

Roadway in David Crockett State Park (Autumn 2008 - Horizontal Image)
Autumn in Tennessee

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, and this attracts major tourism (worth billions of US dollars) for the regions.

Paintings

Images


Autumn Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.