The season existing between summer and winter known as fall – or autumn, if you prefer – officially happens on September 21. But fall is a transitional season starting in Canada at least three weeks earlier than its supposed to. At the beginning of September just after Labour Day, every Canadian knows summer will soon go dissipate then return from time-to-time until November arrives. Yet, the occasional frozen day in September will always reminds us about winter’s imminent arrival.
At the end of August, the temperatures transform to cooler temperatures overnight. Sometimes, Canadian Septembers are easily comparable to our winters. With the advent of frost, the leaves on the trees often change their colours soon after Labour Day. September also marks the end of the summer holidays for North American school children. After the Labour Day weekend, the majority of the nation’s children have returned to school. Likewise, Canadian university and college students have started their fall semesters after Labour Day, whereas secondary students in other countries like the United Kingdom often begin their university courses in October.
Although the first three weeks of September are considered as officially belonging to summer, almost everyone in Canada would lump the entire ninth month of the year in with the fall season without hesitation. The month’s dipping temperatures and the nation’s schooling dates have always dictated September to be an autumn month rather than the last dregs of summer. Although September was always meant to be the end of summer, this distinction had been given to August instead ages ago.
Waving goodbye to summer is always cruel but necessary. With another Canadian winter looming ahead, we’re all expecting weeks of freezing winds, heavy snows and dark, subarctic nights. Still, sometimes in the fall months there’s a reprieve with a brief reappearance of summer lasting a week or more. A French settler in the eastern United States named John de Crevecoeur referred to this period of warm weather in the autumn as an Indian summer in a letter written on January 1778. He was describing a consistent interval of pleasant weather in the so-called New World following the heavy rains in the months of autumn. These days, the label Indian summer lacks historical and cultural legitimacy. In England, the term St. Martin’s summer had been used to reference a period of warm weather in November before the winter settled in. Maybe the term St. Martin’s summer could replace the outdated phrase, Indian summer? But it’s hard to imagine hearing the St. Martin’s summer expression repeated on a consistent basis in Canada, especially since this term is rarely used in England these days.
Meanwhile, Septembers in the Southern Hemisphere mean something completely different. In Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, the autumn season starts on March 1 and ends on May 31. But an Australian September is more like a spring month, representing a shift to warmer weather in the daytime. And in a way, since Canadian school children begin their terms in September, this month might be comparable to a spring season in this country too, since this month represents a period of new beginnings.
September should really be its own season, as this crucial month can be a bit of fall, summer, winter and spring mixed together. September truly is a misplaced and misunderstood month, but this month’s identity had been twisted since the early days. The name of this remarkable and changeable month originates from a combination of Old English and Latin, with septem (seven) acting as the root word. It seems September had once been the seventh month in the original Roman republican calendar rather than the ninth. So, even since the days of the Romans, September had been a month with multiple and contradictory identities.