Thursday, November 11, 2010

Indian Summer

If you live anywhere in the USA, then this is a term you have most likely heard of. An 'Indian Summer' is marked by a week or two of unseasonably warm, dry, and calm weather after the first frost.
The event happens all around the world. The technical term is called 'weather singularity.' Or in other words, a climatic event that recurs the same time around the world. The length and depth of the event depends on the geography in which it is occurring. I am from Indiana and this has been one of the prettiest weeks we have had. Perfect! I turned the heat off and opened the windows. Nothing but bright sun and 70 to 75 degrees in temperature. It is most frequently associated with the central and eastern parts of the United States because of favorable climate. That means a wide variety or wide speed and temperature from summer to winter.
So why is it called 'Indian Summer'? Here are a couple reasons I have found in my research.
1) It was a period when the Native Americans first harvested their crops.
2) It was more commonly found in the North American Indian territories.
In the beginning, this term was only found in America. The English had their own names for this time of year. 'St. Luke's Summer' and 'St. Martin's Summer" are a couple. Those terms have all but disappeared and the term 'Indian Summer' has been used in the UK for at least a decade. When I tried to verify this by asking a friend who is from the UK, he could not say for sure. I think regardless of what we call it, those of us who are having this occurrence in the autumn, are thankful to have one last blast of summer before winter begins.
The first mention of the term was found in an essay "A Snow Storm as it effects the American Farmer", written in the 1770's by a Frenchman turned American farmer. His name was J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur:
"Why the respite from the impending advance of winter was called Indian Summer is anyone's guess--and everyone has guessed. Some of the explanations offered early in the nineteenth century after the term was well established were that it got it's name because the Indian's predicted it, or explained it, to the European settlers; that it was a time of year when the Indians moved to winter hunting grounds; even that the Indians caused it by setting smoky fires to drive game out of hiding."
I think today, as the sun shines and the temperature reaches 75, I am going to put clothes on the line one last time and rake leaves. I hope that you are enjoying your 'Indian Summer'! I know I am!


  1. Great post! I wish you would send that gorgeous weather here. I have been freezing all week! :-D

    I have never heard of the other terms St. Martin'summer? How interesting. Do you think that was because it feel around a feast day?

    Some investigating needs to be done on that! :-)

  2. What an interesting post! Thanks for sharing, Sarah. :-)

  3. Lizzie,
    St. Matin's Day is Nov. 11 and that is the reason they call it that.

    Thanks for commenting ladies!

  4. Sarah, that is not what I meant. I meant how did November 11th become St. Martin's day. I found that November 11th marked the end of what we call Indian Summer. But Saint Lukes day fell in October. You are making me put my research cap on and look further so here is what I found!


    St. Martin's Day, also known as the Feast of St. Martin, Martinstag or Martinmas, the Feast of St Martin of Tours or Martin le Misércordieux, is a time for feasting celebrations. This is the time when autumn wheat seeding is completed. Historically, hiring fairs were held where farm laborers would seek new posts. The feast day, is November 11, the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, who started out as a Roman soldier. He was baptized as an adult and became a monk. It is understood that he was a kind man who led a quiet and simple life. The most famous legend of his life is that he once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from dying of the cold. That night he dreamed that Jesus was wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away. Martin heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clothed me." [1]'s_Day

    I found a quickie blurb on Saint Luke's Summer on The American Meteorological Society website.*

    St. Luke's summer—In English folklore, a period of fine, calm weather, similar to Indian summer, occurring in October.

    St. Luke's Day is 18 October. Compare St. Martin's summer, All-hallown summer, Old Wives' summer.