Indian Summer: Why Is It So Named?

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Indian Summer: Why Is It So Named?
Indian Summer: Why Is It So Named?

Indian summer is a period of dry and warm weather in September - early October. This period lasts from a few days to 3 weeks. Indian Summer”comes after a noticeable cold snap. It can be accompanied by secondary flowering of various plants, which usually bloom only once a year.

Indian summer: why is it so named?
Indian summer: why is it so named?

Indian summer: timing and duration

The time of the beginning of Indian summer and its duration are different. It usually falls in mid-September and lasts 1-2 weeks, until early October. In Central Russia, these fine days start around September 14th. In North America and Europe, this period occurs somewhat later, at the end of September or in the first half of October.

In the south of the Far East, the beginning of Indian summer usually falls on the first weeks of October, and in the south of Siberia - in late September - early October.

What is said about Indian summer in dictionaries

The Brockhaus and Efron dictionary says that the common expression "Indian summer" means a clear, dry autumn, when cobwebs fly in the air.

According to Dahl's Explanatory Dictionary, this period begins on September 14, on the day of Simeon the Pilot, and ends on September 21 (Asposov day) or September 28 (on the Exaltation day). Dahl also mentions a young Indian summer, which takes place from the feast of the Assumption (August 28) to September 11.

What is the name of Indian summer among different peoples

In Macedonia and Bulgaria, this period is called the Gypsy summer, in Serbia - Mikhailov / Martin's summer, in North America - Indian summer, in Sweden - Brigitte's summer, in Switzerland - widow's summer, in Italy - Saint Martin's summer, in France - Saint Denis's summer …

This period is called Indian summer among the Western, Eastern Slavs and the Germans (Altweibersommer). However, in the latter case, this expression can also be translated as the summer of elderly women, and literally - as the summer of old women.

On this occasion, we can mention one curious story that happened in 1989. A 77-year-old woman from the city of Darmstadt in Germany appealed to the regional court. She complained that the word Altweibersommer offends her honor and dignity, not only as a woman, but also as an elderly person.

In her claim, the plaintiff demanded a ban on this word. However, the court dismissed her complaint. After all, the first part of this word - alte Weiber, used to mean simply "old woman", in contrast to the current combination of altes Weib, which today translates as "old woman, old woman, old witch, old hag."

However, in Russia, the attitude to this common name is ambiguous, depending on how the word "baba" is perceived - as dismissive or as native Russian.

Where did the name "Indian summer" come from?

According to the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, the phrase "Indian summer" means the time when old women can bask in the autumn sun. Also, this expression is associated with a period in the life of the peasants, when they ended their field work, and women took up household chores: they processed and weaved flax, and did needlework. The peasants called such work a woman's work.

Interestingly, in Germany the name "Indian summer" was also associated with yarn. On warm autumn days, leaf spiders work sitting on plants: they weave the thinnest web, to which magical power was attributed in ancient times. In German, the word for "weaving" is weben; in Old German, weaving was called weiben. This word is very consonant with the German Weib - woman, woman. And since this web is very thin and translucent, it looked like the gray hair of older women.

According to another version, the expression "Indian summer" in the old days had a meaning, which is based on the belief that women have the mystical power to return the seasons back, to influence the weather. In addition, many associate this name with a Russian folk proverb: "45 - a woman is a berry again." That is, at the age of 40-50 years, a woman “blooms” again. And nature during the Indian summer bears fruit, showing its feminine principle.