Did You Know?
Facts, Figures, & Folklore About the Season of Autumn
Do you feel that? The crisp morning air is a sure sign that the fall season is right around the corner. As the days get shorter and the temperatures fall, autumn heralds its coming with fiery red leaves and bright orange pumpkins. Get yourself ready to fall back into fall with Holidays on the Net's fun-filled autumn trivia.
Did you know that the autumnal equinox marks the start of fall in the northern hemisphere?
On the equinox, which can occur on September 21, 22 or 23, the Sun crosses the celestial equator and day and night are equal in length. In the southern hemisphere, the September equinox marks the beginning of spring.
Did you know that the word autumn comes from the French word, automne?
The word came into common usage around the 16th century, before which "harvest" was used to refer to this time of year. The use of harvest fell out of popularity as people gradually began living in towns and working the land became less common.
Did you know that this season is referred to as both "Fall" or "Autumn"?
Americans colloquially refer to the season between summer and winter as "fall", while Brits prefer the more scientific terms "autumn"?
Did you know that autumn's association with the harvest is rooted in a number of world religions?
The autumn Jewish holiday of Sukkot, for example, has its roots in the full moon harvest; native American tribes have a number of festivals associated with the harvest; and in China, there is a mid-autumn Moon Festival. Even the secular American holiday of Thanksgiving was originally an autumnal celebration, marking the conclusion of the harvest and the preparation for winter's imminent arrival.
Did you know that leaves change colors in the fall because of decreasing amounts of a pigment called chlorophyll?
Chlorophyll, which converts air and water into food for plants, gives leaves their bright green color. The colder fall temperatures decrease chlorophyll production.
Did you know that the pigment anthocyanin is responsible for bright red and purple leaves, while carotene brings out orange colors and xanthophylls makes the yellows?
These pigments are always present in the leaves, but only become dominant in the fall, when the colder weather causes chlorophyll production to drop.
Did you know that pumpkins can grow to be over 1,000 pounds?
The harvesting of pumpkins -- which, along with winter squash, are a variety of gourds -- is a true harbinger of autumn. Many families carve pumpkins as part of their celebrations for Halloween, which falls in the middle of fall on October 31.
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