Wednesday, March 1, 2023


1 March 2023 marks the beginning of Autumn in Australia.

There are two different dates when autumn could be said to begin, based on either the equinox or the calendar.

On the equinox, the length of day and night are nearly equal. The equinox in the northern hemisphere occurs twice a year, around 20 March (the spring equinox) and around 22 September (the autumn equinox). Reverse those for the southern hemisphere.

Autumn, as defined by the Earth's orbit around the Sun, in the northern hemisphere begins on the equinox which falls on 22 or 23 September.

However, to record climate data, it is important to have set dates that can be compared, so meteorological autumn always begins on 1 September in the northern hemisphere and 1 march in the southern hemisphere.

In Greek mythology, autumn first began when Persephone was abducted by Hades to be the Queen of the Underworld. In distress, Persephone's mother, Demeter (the goddess of the harvest), caused all the crops on Earth to die until her daughter was allowed to return, marking spring.

The word autumn comes from the French autompne, from the Latin autumnus, whose deeper roots are obscure. It is first recorded in English as early as the late 1300s—notably, both Chaucer and Shakespeare used it in their works.

Speakers of American English commonly use both fall and autumn to refer to the season, though fall became more common in the US by the late 1800s. Speakers of British English largely use autumn or the autumn season.

Recorded use of the word fall comes from as early as the 1500s. The name is thought to originate in the phrase the fall of the leaf, in reference to the time of year when deciduous trees shed their leaves. The name of its inverse season, spring, is thought to come from the phrase spring of the leaf, the time when everything is blossoming.

The name fall was commonly used in England until about the end of the 1600s, when it was ousted by autumn.

During the 17th century, Englishmen began emigrating to the new North American colonies, and the 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.

The Autumn season once had a completely different name; during the 12th and 13th centuries in England, Autumn was known as ‘haerfest’, or in today’s spelling, ‘harvest’. One of the reasons it earned this name was because the full moon nearest to the Autumn equinox is called the harvest moon. Harvest was a time where farmers could reap the rewards from the crops they sowed, resulting in an abundance of produce.

Harvest was so significant that the Harvest Festival was born – pagans would give thanks for successful yields in the form of singing hymns, dancing, praying, and decorating churches with fruits.

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.

All of those colours in a leaf have always been there, it's just that they don't come out until conditions are right. Leaf colours depend on the sun. Leaves are full of chlorophyll, a natural chemical that makes them green. But when the leaves get less sunshine, chlorophyll isn't produced as much, making the green colour fade, and allowing the natural colour of the leaves to come out. So, really, leaves are naturally red, yellow, orange, and purple—the green is just dominant most of the year.

Scientists believe that global warming is going to run autumn foliage and may have started already. Leaf colours are highly affected by temperature, light, and water supply. If the temperatures remain too warm, that delays the leaves from showing their natural colours.

Halloween is incredibly popular during autumn, and it's a holiday that has been around for a very long time. But centuries ago, it was a little different and more dark. It celebrated human death, and the Celts believed that on the night before Halloween, the boundary between the living and the dead came down. They started wearing scary costumes in order to scare away the ghosts that they believed walked the earth on Halloween.

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