42 Colorful Facts about Fall/Autumn

By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published October 1, 2016
  • Autumn has been called the “hectic beauty of death.”[8]
  • Levels of testosterone in both men and women are at their highest in the fall. Scientists speculate the surge may be a result of ancient mating instincts (e.g., the fall “rutting season”) or that decreasing daylight somehow triggers it.[9]
  • Since ancient times, autumn has ranked as one of the most important times of year as daylight begins to fade and cold, dark days lie ahead. Because a good harvest is necessary for survival, many societies tried to ensure a good harvest by honoring various gods and goddesses. Some societies, such as the Aztecs in ancient Mexico, even made human sacrifices to please the gods.[6]
  • According to NASA, autumn is “aurora season” because geomagnetic storms are about twice as frequent as the annual average during the fall.[3]
  • The name "pumpkin" comes from the Greek word 'pepon,' which means 'large melon'
  • According to The Weather Channel, pumpkin by far was the most craved-for food in autumn.[5]
  • Scientists believe males evolved to be sexually primed by food, which made autumn’s harvest time an ideal time to find a mate and reproduce. In fact, studies show that a mix of pumpkin pie and donuts increased penile flow by 20%. A pumpkin pie-lavender mix increased the penile blood flow by 40%.[9]
  • A “Harvest Moon” is the full moon closest to the autumn equinox. Before artificial lighting, such moonlight was essential to a farmer’s successful harvest.[3]
  • During the fall, in response to colder temperatures and less light, leaves stop producing chlorophyll, the green pigment that helps capture sunlight to power photosynthesis. As the green fades, the leave’s other pigments shine through, such as orange and yellow carotenoids and vibrant red anthocyanin.[3]
  • Scientists believe global warming could affect autumn colors. As the world warms, leaves may delay changing their colors. Additionally, trees may not use their sugars to create red pigments; rather, they might send that fuel to growing new twigs. Global warming may also alter the habitats of trees, such as the sugar maple, which creates some of the most vibrant fall colors.[8]
  • Animals and plants respond to the light changes associated with autumn. For example, each autumn, the male Siberian hamster’s testes swell up to 17 times bigger than normal to prepare for mating.[3]
  • Each fall, the black-capped chickadee’s tiny hippocampus enlarges by 30%, which enables it to remember where it collected seeds in different spots in trees and on the ground.[3]
  • Researchers found that during the cooler months of autumn, men are more likely to cozy up with their sweethearts and watch romantic comedies. Feeling cold activates a yearning for warmth and comfort with others.[9]
  • Autumn kicks off the season of cuddling
  • A study in the journal Perception noted that men think women are more attractive in the cooler seasons. One theory is that men’s testosterone levels rise during the fall. Another theory is the “contrast effect.” During the summer, men are frequently exposed to scantily clad women—but not so much in the autumn, which shifts “attractiveness criteria” in women’s favor in the fall.[9]
  • The autumnal equinox occurs on different dates each year, but usually falls on September 22 or 23. In 1931, the equinox fell on September 24 because the Gregorian calendar doesn’t always match up with the position of Earth in its orbit around the sun. The fall equinox won’t happen again on September 24 until 2303.[6]
  • The term “equinox” is from the Latin meaning “equal night.”[8]
  • Solstices and equinoxes are solar events that have to do with Earth’s position in relation to the sun at different times of the year. Solstices (summer and winter) are when the sun is at its northernmost or southernmost position in the sky. The equinox (fall and spring) is when day and night are (roughly) the same length all over the world.[8]
  • Autumn begins when the center of the sun crosses Earth’s equator. As Earth continues its path around the sun, days become shorter and nights become longer, with the change most noticeable for those at higher latitudes.[6]
  • Many birds prepare for winter migration during the fall. One of the longest migrations is the 11,000-mile journey by the Arctic Tern.[8]
  • While Americans typically use the word “fall,” the British use the word “autumn,” though both terms date around the 16th century. Before these terms, the period was called “harvest.”[6]
  • Autumn . . . the year's last, loveliest smile.

    - William Cullen Bryant

  • People who live on the equator or central area of the planet never experience autumn.[8]
  • Most meteorologists define autumn as lasting through September, October, and November in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, autumn lasts through March, April, and May. Specifically in New Zealand and Australia, autumn officially begins on March 1 and ends on May 31.[8]
  • According to Greek legend, autumn begins when Persephone returns to Hades in the underworld. Heartbroken, her mother, the goddess of grain and harvest, allows the crops on Earth to die until her daughter returns in the spring.[8]
  • Hair is a sensitive barometer to environmental changes
  • Swedish researchers found that women lose more hair in the fall. The pattern is thought to be a result of evolution: women hold on to their hair during the summer to protect the scalp against the midday sun. Additionally, hair cells are the second fastest-growing cells in the body (after bone marrow) and are sensitive to environmental disruptions, such as seasonal changes.[7]
  • While sperm concentration and count are at their lowest from August to October due to summer heat, they rebound with vigor in late autumn in what has been called the “overshoot phenomenon.” Not surprisingly, birthrates peak nine months later in August and September.[9]
  • The word “harvest” comes from the Old Norse word haust, which means “to gather or pluck.” As people moved to the cities, “harvest” fell out of use and city dwellers began to use “fall of the leaf,” which was shortened to “fall” to describe the change in season.[6]
  • Etymologists are unsure of the origin of the word “autumn,” though they believe it comes from the ancient Etruscan root autu, which implies a change of season. In this scenario, the Romans then appropriated the term and formed the Latin word autumnus.[6]
  • According to seasonal patterns of relationships in Facebook profiles, autumn is the time when more singles change their status to “In a Relationship” or “Engaged” than the yearly average. More breakups occur during the summertime.[9]
  • Each autumn, many animals experience gonadal recrudescence, or behavior in response to environmental cues (e.g., daylight). Specifically, in early fall, the amount of available daylight, or photoperiod, matches the photoperiod in spring, which triggers mating instincts in animals. The autumn photoperiod doesn’t last long, as the days continue to shorten.[12]
  • During the spring and summer, most people eat more carbs. However, they develop a tendency for fattier foods in the autumn, which leads to seasonal weight gain.[13]
  • Research suggests that low levels of vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) can lead to weight gain during autumn and winter. Lack of vitamin D reduces fat breakdown and triggers fat storage.[13]
  • Autumnal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects between 4-5% of the population, although 10-20% have one any kind of symptoms related to it. It generally affects more women than men.[11]
  • Autumn babies, or those born between September and November, are more likely to live to 100 than those who were born in other times of the year.[4]
  • More babies are born in September than any other month
  • Several studies reveal that summer-born children showed significantly lower development than those born in the autumn.[1]
  • Athletic children are more likely to be born in autumn and winter months. Those born in the spring were the most sluggish.[10]
  • The August 15th Catholic celebration, “Day of Assumption” (which celebrates the day Mary was taken up [assumed] to heaven), replaced a much more ancient celebration of the beginning of autumn known as the “Feast of Our Lady Harvest.” For centuries, celebrations were held on this day for various goddesses associated with grain and fruit. Church leaders believed the easiest way to handle this pagan holiday was to simply make it into a Christian one.[6]
  • The autumnal equinox is also called Harvest Home, Mabon, the Feast of the Ingathering, and Alban-Elfed (in Neo-Druid traditions).[6]
  • While heart attacks and car accidents increase after the start of daylight saving time in the spring, the opposite is true of the end of it in the fall: heart attacks and accidents decrease the Monday after daylight saving time ends.[11]
  • Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, takes place each autumn. The festival began as part of a crown prince’s wedding celebrations in 1810 and has continued since. About 1.3 million gallons (5 million liters) of beer are poured during the festival.[6]
  • Autumn has historically been a rich symbol of both bounty and death, and writers have been fascinated with both sides of this dualism. Yeats, for example, wrote a poem “To Autumn” in which he uses autumn as an allegory of aging and death. Additionally, in The Great Gatsby, autumn represents the loss Gatsby feels after his love affair with Daisy ends.[8]
  • Autumn holidays include Labor Day, Grandparents Day, Patriot Day, Autumn Equinox, Columbus Day, Halloween, Veterans Day, Remembrance Day, and Thanksgiving.[2]
  • "And the tree was happy" ~ Shel Silverstein
  • According to superstition, catching leaves in autumn brings good luck. Every leaf means a lucky month next year.[6]
  • Each autumn, monarch butterflies migrate from the U.S. to Mexico and some parts of Southern California. They fly at speeds ranging between 12 and 25 miles per hour. Monarch butterflies are the only insect that migrates to a warmer climate that is 2,500 miles away.[8]
References

1 Arnett, George. “Primary School Stats: Children Born in Autumn Perform the Best.” The Guardian. November 21, 2012. Accessed: July 29, 2014.

2Autumn Holidays.” ChildFun. 2014. Accessed: July 29, 2014.

3 Bryner, Jeanna. “Autumn Equinox: 5 Odd Facts about Fall.” LiveScience. September 22, 2013. Accessed: July 19, 2014.

4 De Lange, Catherine. “Autumn Babies More Likely to Hit 100.” New Scientist. July 12, 2012. Accessed: July 29, 2014.

5 Elliot, Mark. “10 Foods and Drinks You Crave in the Fall.” The Weather Channel. 2014. Accessed: July 29, 2014.

6 Harvest Celebrations (World Book’s Celebrations and Rituals around the World). Chicago, IL: World Book, Inc, 2003.

7 Hodgekiss, Anna. “Why Autumn Can Make Women’s Hair Fall Out . . . and So Can Going on a Diet and Drinking Too Much Tea.” Daily Mail UK. Updated October 10, 2011. Accessed: July 29, 2014.

8 Marchand, Peter J. Autumn: A Season of Change. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2000.

9 Pincott, Jena. “6 Surprising Way Autumn Affects Your Sex Life.” Huffington Post. Updated October 4, 2013. Accessed: July 19, 2014.

10 Sample, Ian. “Autumn and Winter Births Put a Spring in Babies’ Step.” The Guardian. November 22, 2007. Accessed: July 29, 2014.

11 Schocker, Laura. “Daylight Saving 2011: How Time Change Affects Our Health.” Huffington Post. Updated January 6, 2012. Accessed: July 29, 2014.

12 Tekiela, Stan. “Seasonal Changes.” Nature Smart. August 15, 2008. Accessed: July 19, 2014.

13 Topham, Laura. “Why You Get Fatter in Winter . . . Even Though You Eat Less.” Daily Mail UK. Updated October 24, 2011. Accessed: July 19, 2014.

Suggested for you

Prev
Next

Trending Now

Load More
>