The first day of fall is here: what you might not know about the season


How did September 22 become the first official day of fall? Why is it called fall? And why are pumpkins so important this time of year? (AP Photo / Toby Talbot)

(WHTM) – Schools are back to school, football is back to full swing on the weekends, and the temperature is slowly dropping in our thermometers – all signs of fall is here.

The first day of fall, or the fall equinox, is Wednesday – at 3:20 p.m. EST, to be precise.

But how did September 22 become the official first day of fall? Why is it called fall? And why are pumpkins so important this time of year?

While the first day of a season may feel like it was chosen by throwing a dart at a calendar, the actual reasoning for such a day is based on science – in particular, the positioning of the earth and from the sun. This is where the term equinox comes into play. Equinox is based on the Latin word aequus, which means equal, and nox, which means night.

What happens during an equinox?

Don’t worry, time zones don’t magically disappear. At the equinox, the length of day and night is roughly equal.

When an equinox occurs, the sun crosses the equator from side to side. Those of us north of the equator begin to experience an autumnal climate during the fall equinox, while those south of the line begin to experience spring because the sun’s rays pass from the northern hemisphere. to the southern hemisphere. The reverse happens on the spring equinox, or the first day of spring.

So during a day, when the sun is just above the equator, both hemispheres get roughly the same amount of daylight.

Why is it called fall?

The season, which is the only one with more than one commonly used name, is called “fall” because of the leaves that fall from the trees at this time of year. This name first appeared around the 1500s, according to, along with the name “autumn,” whose roots are obscure, dating further back to the 1300s. Incidentally, the season is also known as “harvest.”

As the heat of the sun slowly fades as autumn arrives, climate change is also causing a change in products. What you see in the ‘locally produced’ section of your market might start to take a different form.

Pumpkins, which have been cultivated in North America for nearly 5,000 years, reach maturity in the fall after a long growing season, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Because they need 75 to 100 frost-free days, they’re usually planted from late May to early July, depending on the region, so they’re ripe before the cold weather hits.

“Pumpkins and apples are your staple fall foods,” said Eric Finkenbinder, chief meteorologist and farmer at WHTM. “People love to spend an afternoon just to pick them up. The decoration is great too. Pumpkins, corn chips, squash, Indian corn. Farmers’ markets will start selling cool-season crops like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.

When are we “backing down?”

There is one more thing to remember: just because it is the first day of autumn does not mean that our clocks are “going backwards”. This won’t happen until the end of daylight saving time on the first Sunday in November, which falls on November 7 of this year.

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