20 Fun and Strange Things About AUTUMN & a FREE Offer
Today, September 23, 2019, is the First day of Autumn or Fall, also known as the Autumnal Equinox. We thought that you would like to know some FUN and STRANGE things about this amazing season. There is so much more to why this is more than just a season to pull your sweaters and scarves out of hibernation or eat and drink all of your favorite pumpkin spice foods and drinks.
1. Why is American football played in the fall?
There are a couple of theories as to why this is so. First, for safety reasons. As the temperatures across the nation begin to cool down, especially in the evenings, heat stroke and heat exhaustion become almost non-existent. Professional, collegiate, high schools and Pop Warner teams, along with other leagues and players, are taking heat-related injuries and deaths seriously by providing cooling stations, adequate hydration and other means of eliminating overheating. Second, traditionally speaking, baseball has been “America’s Pastime” or “America’s Sport” and has generally been played from late Spring through the Summer into the very beginning of Autumn. American football took this competition seriously and began playing in the late Summer and early Autumn to avoid competing with baseball. Given that basketball and hockey are considered winter sports (except in the Olympics, where basketball is a summer sport), American football stands out as the only major autumnal sport.
2. Is it “Fall” or “Autumn”?
Until about 1500, Autumn was just called “harvest.” Americans typically refer to this time of year as “fall,” while the British use the word “autumn.” Both terms date back to the 16th century but before that it was called “harvest”. Historically, Fall was called “harvest” because of the “harvest moon” that occurs close to the Autumnal Equinox. Before man-made lighting and cities, towns and farms became “electrified”, the bright night of the harvest moon was essential for farmers harvesting their late-year crops and a prosperous return on their plantings.
3. And the Cause of Fall is????
Contrary to popular belief, fall Is caused by the Earth’s tilt, not our distance from the sun. When the northern hemisphere tilts towards the sun, we get warmer. When it tilts away, we get colder. Fall and spring are the times of transition. The Autumn Equinox is one of two days a year when the sun is exactly in line with Earth’s celestial equator (think, the equator projected onto the sky). As a result, Earth receives exactly 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. The trick to remembering this is in the name: The word “equinox” comes from the Latin meaning “equal night.”
4. Why am I Gaining Weight?
Weight gain around this time of year may not only be due to comforting fall foods like pumpkin pie and cider. Researchers have found that lack of vitamin D reduces fat breakdown and triggers fat storage leading to an average weight gain of two to four pounds each year in autumn and winter. So, the lack of sunlight has more to do with the extra gain than all the pumpkin spice lattes. Well, at least some of it.
5. Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Pumpkins. . .EVERYWHERE!
More pumpkins, please! According to The Weather Channel, pumpkins are the most craved food during the fall. Although, if you’ve left the house anytime recently, this may not come as a surprise to you. They are perhaps the most iconic image of autumn, and are grown on six of the seven continents (sorry, Antarctica). Their name comes from the Greek word pepon, roughly meaning “large melon.” The word traded hands from French (pompon) to British (pumpion) before colonial Americans dubbed it pumpkin. The colonials went one step further: the phrase “pumpkin-head,” referring to a “dunce or idiot with short hair cut all around” and is recorded in America as early as 1781.
6. Then There’s Pumpkin Flavor EVERYWHERE!
So you leave home and go to your favorite coffee shop (a la Starbucks, Peets, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or Central Perk) or even the local grocery store and there is Pumpkin flavored EVERYTHING! From foods to soaps to air sprays and everything in between like lattes, cereal, ice cream, butter and even yogurt, you get “pumpkin spice” flavors in all of it. But did you know that pumpkin spice has nothing to do with pumpkins? What am I eating, drinking or smelling then?!?!? Have you ever noticed that the flavor pumpkin spice doesn't actually taste quite like pumpkins? Truth is, Autumn’s favorite flavoring is almost never the orange-fleshed vegetable -- pumpkin. Instead, the flavor comes from a mix of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, dry ginger and cloves, except when food companies take over. Most times, they create a synthetic version using chemicals found naturally in pumpkins and some of the previously listed spices. Those chemicals trick your brain into thinking that whatever concoction you're consuming is pumpkin. Pumpkin spice is actually the spice mix used for pumpkin pies. It is made from 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice and 1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves. You can make it at home or buy it pre-mixed at the grocery store.
7. Autumn is GREAT for the Economy
At least, in foliage-blessed states like New Hampshire and Vermont. “Leaf peeping,” the slang term for fall leaf tourism, is reportedly a $3 billion dollar business in New England, where millions of out-of-state visitors flock to take in the changing colors. Some places, though, never get to see Autumn. In spite of Autumn being a fact of life for most of us, tropical climes near the Equator, like the Caribbean islands, means that the weather stays beautifully mild all year. Temperatures in Puerto Rico, for example, range from 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Those places might be warm, but they don’t get to experience many of the reasons fall is the best season of the year.
8. Those AMAZING Colors of Fall
The gorgeous red, yellow and orange colors you see in the fall foliage actually always exist in leaves but they are overpowered by the sunlight-induced chemical of chlorophyll in abundance. As the days grow shorter because of the tilt of our planet, the amount of chlorophyll starts to decrease and the trees “explode” in their vibrant pigments letting the plant’s hidden red, yellow, and orange hues shine. The red and purple leaves are only that color because of the presence of sugars and sap that are trapped within the leaves. These sugars provide plants with the energy they need to survive. The more red in the leaf, the more sugar that leaf is storing. That is why Maple trees are so vibrant.
9. Speaking of Trees, Why Don’t the Evergreen Trees Change Colors?
Evergreen trees such as pines, cedars, and spruces stay green because their leaves (needles) are covered with thick wax and they contain materials that prevent freezing when it gets cold. Because the coniferous needles are compact, watertight, and generally harder for weather and insects to destroy, pine trees can photosynthesize year-round, keeping the chlorophyll at work and keeping the needles permanently green.
10. Flying South for the Winter
Many birds will prepare for their winter migration during the fall. The distance they can travel is impressive; the Arctic Tern travels 11,000 miles each way for it’s annual migration—that’s a total of 44,000 miles and that’s no small feat! Whether traveling from one state to another, from North America to South America (Swainson’s Hawk, 14,000 miles round trip), or from the North Pole to the South Pole (like the Arctic Tern), many birds spend this season traveling to mating grounds or finding food.
11. Monarch Butterflies Migrate Too
Monarch butterflies, meanwhile, make autumn a migratory season, flying South from America to the relative warmth of Mexico and parts of California. Traveling at speeds of between 12 and 25 miles per hour (that’s just shy of Usain Bolt’s average 27.8 mph footspeed), they are the only insect that migrates up to 2,500 miles for nicer weather.
12. LOVE is in the Air
More people go from “single” to “in a relationship” or “engaged” in fall than any other season. That may be because both men and women experience a higher level of testosterone in the colder months. This makes sense because more babies are conceived during the fall and winter. The cause is unknown but it could be due to lack of sunlight or even go back to ancient mating rituals. An analysis of Facebook data found that more people change their relationship statuses from “single” to “in a relationship” or “engaged” in autumn than the yearly average, while more break-ups occurred in summer. It’s Facebook Official: Fall is for lovers. Do humans have a “mating season” like other animals? One thing is for sure: September is the most popular birth month of the year. Some may “blame” the colder weather or lesser daylight for the desire to be with someone in front of the fire and enjoying their company
13. Animals “Enjoy” the Autumn Too!
Many other animals have an even more obvious reaction to the fall mating season. As some prepare to slow down, hibernate or even go dormant for the winter, Autumn is the perfect time in the animal kingdom to mate then go take a winter-long nap.
14. Squirrels Get Smarter
During the gray squirrel’s fall caching season, when the critters bury nuts and seeds in hundreds of scattered caches to serve as emergency winter larders, a typical squirrel shows a 15 percent increase in the size of its hippocampus—the memory and emotion center of the brain—compared to the rest of the year.
15. Fall babies are better students and are more likely to live longer
According to the UK Department of education and the University of Chicago, Fall is the best time to be born as children born in the fall are statistically better students and live longer.
Children born in autumn (September through December) are more likely to excel in school than those born at other times of the year, according to a UK Department of Education report. Meanwhile, children born between September and November are more likely to live to be 100 than those born at other times of year, according to a University of Chicago study of 1,500 centenarians. One theory suggests that exposure to seasonal infections (especially in summer) early in life can have a long-lasting effect on health.
16. Daylight Saving Time Ending in the Fall is GOOD for Us
Our bodies love to “fall back.” On November 3rd, 2019, Daylight Savings Time officially ends, giving us an extra hour of sleep. According to a New England Journal of Medicine report, Americans’ rate of heart attacks has been known to fall on the Monday following the end of daylight savings time in November, while the rate of both heart attacks and car accidents tends to rise on the Monday following the start of DST in Spring.
17. The Aurora Borealis is More Likely to Occur this Time of Year
Hungry for more mystical, colorful phenomenon? Turn your eyes North to the Aurora Borealis. Also known as the Northern Lights, these geomagnetic storms occur when charged solar particles squeeze through our atmosphere’s defenses and collide with gaseous particles in Earth’s sky. Thanks to longer, clearer nights, this free light show occurs twice as often during fall and winter months.
18. Don’t Forget All Hallow’s Eve!
We can’t forget Halloween! Halloween takes place in the fall and comes from ancient Celtic tradition of Samhain. These people believed that ghosts roamed the earth on Halloween and people would wear disguises in order to hide from these spirits.
19. And then there’s Dia de Muertos
One of the oldest Autumn festivals is Mexico’s Dia de Muertos (November 1st and 2nd), a celebration of departed loved ones and the cycle of life that Mesoamerican cultures may have observed thousands of years. Mesoamerican cultures like the Maya were already “celebrating” the harvest about 1,000 years before the birth of Christ with an annual festival of death and rebirth. For one whole month the Aztecs would honor their departed ancestors and the gods of the great beyond including the “Queen of the Underworld”, Mictecacihautl. To many indigenous Americans, death was seen as a continuance of life; a shift from one phase of being to another, like a butterfly reborn from a caterpillar’s cocoon. This Mayan and Aztec month-long celebration of the cycle of life and death always coincided with the summer corn harvest. After the Spanish Conquistadores arrived and proceeded to conquer and “convert” the Central and South American natives to Catholicism, the holiday went from the month-long celebration to the two days coinciding with All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
20. Don’t Forget Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving, the unofficial “end” to Autumn, is also rich in history and symbolism. From the first Thanksgiving in 1621 where 50 Puritans and 90 Wampanoag Natives celebrated 3 days straight with venison, duck, goose, oysters, lobster, eel and fish alongside pumpkins and cranberries to the October 3, 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln to our modern-day feasts with turkey, stuffing and all the fixings. There is SO much to be thankful for, especially during the days, weeks and months of Autumn from family and friends to colors and foods. I guess what we’re saying is, ENJOY!
ONE LAST NOTE:
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