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Indian summer

Indian summer is a period of unseasonably warm, dry weather that sometimes occurs in autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. Indian summers are common in the far East and the orient. The US National Weather Service defines this as weather conditions that are sunny and clear with above normal temperatures, occurring late-September to mid-November.[1] It is usually described as occurring after a killing frost.[1]


Etymology and usageEdit

Late-19th century Boston lexicographer Albert Matthews made an exhaustive search of early American literature in an attempt to discover who coined the expression.[2] The earliest reference he found dated from 1851. He also found the phrase in a letter written in England in 1778, but discounted that as a coincidental use of the phrase.

Later research showed that the earliest known reference to Indian Summer in its current sense occurs in an essay written in the United States in the late 1770s (probably 1778) by J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur. The letter was first published in French. The essay remained unavailable in the United States until the 1920s.[3]

Although the exact origins of the term are uncertain,[4] it was perhaps so-called because it was first noted in regions inhabited by Native Americans ("Indians"), or because the Native Americans first described it to Europeans,[5] or it had been based on the warm and hazy conditions in autumn when Native Americans hunted.[4]

In literature and history, the term is sometimes used metaphorically. The title of Van Wyck Brooks' New England: Indian Summer (1940) suggests an era of inconsistency, infertility, and depleted capabilities, a period of seemingly robust strength that is only an imitation of an earlier season of actual strength.[6] William Dean Howells' 1886 novel "Indian Summer" uses the term to mean a time when one may recover some of the happiness of youth. The main character, jilted as a young man, leads a solitary life until he rediscovers romance in early middle age.

In British English, the term is used in the same way as in North America. In the UK, observers knew of the American usage from the mid-19th century onwards, and The Indian Summer of a Forsyte is the metaphorical title of the 1918 second volume of The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy. However, early 20th-century climatologists Gordon Manley and Hubert Lamb used it only when referring to the American phenomenon, and the expression did not gain wide currency in Great Britain until the 1950s. In former times such a period was associated with the autumn feast days of St. Martin and Saint Luke.[7]

Similar phenomenaEdit

Similar weather conditions, with local variations also exist. A warm period in autumn is called "Altweibersommer" (de: "old women's summer") in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lithuania, Hungary, Estonia (Estonian: vananaistesuvi), Finland,[8] and in a number of Slavic-language countries—for example, in Poland, Russia, Serbia, and Croatia—it is known as "old woman's summer" (Polish: babie lato, Russian: бабье лето, IPA: [babje ljeto], Croatian: bablje ljeto). In Bulgaria, it is known as "gypsy summer" or "poor man's summer". In Sweden, there's "Brittsommar" (out of "Birgitta" and "Britta", having their name days around the time). In Gaelic Ireland, the phenomenon is called "fómhar beag na ngéanna" (little autumn of the geese).[9]

In temperate parts of South America—such as southernmost Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay—the phenomenon is known as "Veranico", "Veranito" or "Veranillo" (literally, "little summer"), and usually occurs in early autumn between late April and mid-May, when it is known as "Veranico de Mayo" ("May's little summer") or as "Veranito de San Juan" ("Saint John's little summer"). Its onset and duration are directly associated with the occurrence of El Niño.

In other countries it is associated with autumnal name days or saint days such as Teresa of Ávila (Portugal, Spain and France), St. Martin's Summer (Catalonia, France, Italy and Portugal), Michaelmas summer (Serbia and Republika Srpska), St. Martin's Day (Netherlands), Bridget of Sweden in Sweden, and Saint Michael the Archangel in Wales. In Turkey it is called pastirma yazı, meaning pastrami summer, since the month of November was considered to be the best time to make pastrami.[10]

In mediaEdit

Board gamesEdit

  • Indian Summer, designed by Uwe Rosenberg, is named and themed after the event, and involves players placing leaf-filled tiles on the forest floor.


  • Engine Summer by John Crowley is named after and references the event, with the spelling changed to reflect the post-apocalyptic setting of the book.



  • Victor Herbert composed the song "Indian Summer" in 1919.
  • It was a number one hit for Tommy Dorsey's orchestra in 1939.
  • It was recorded by Frank Sinatra on his album with Duke Ellington, Francis A, and Edward K., in 1968.
  • It was recorded by Tony Bennett for his Frank Sinatra tribute album, "Perfectly Frank," in 1992.

Movies and TelevisionEdit

  • In the 1995 movie Die Hard With A Vengeance, Bruce Willis as John McClane references the phenomenon in order to verify that the policemen he is speaking with are actually European imposters with convincing accents.
  • Mad Men Season 1, Episode 11 makes reference to Indian Summer calling that episode with the same name.
  • Indian Summer is a 1993 comedy drama film written and directed by Mike Binder.


  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, 'Hiawatha', 1855 mentions "the tender Indian Summer"

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Deedler, William (Fall 1996). "Just What Is Indian Summer And Did Indians Really Have Anything To Do With It?". Detroit/Pontiac, MI: National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office. Archived from the original on October 9, 2014. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  2. ^ Matthews, Albert (February 1902). "The Term Indian Summer". Monthly Weather Review. 30 (2): 69–80. Bibcode:1902MWRv...30...69M. doi:10.1175/1520-0493-30.2.69c. Retrieved 2015-10-03. 
  3. ^ Sweeting, Adam W. (2003). Beneath the Second Sun: A Cultural History of Indian Summer. New Hampshire. p. 14-15. 
  4. ^ a b "Hints of an Indian Summer". BBC. Retrieved 19 September 2015. 
  5. ^ "Indian summer". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 19 September 2015. 
  6. ^ Commager, Henry Steele (August 18, 1940). "In New England's Lesser Days". New York Times. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Indian summer: What exactly is it?". BBC. 1 October 2011. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  8. ^ Kallio, Jussi (October 13, 2009). "Intiaanikesä". Kotimaisten kielten keskus (in Finnish). Retrieved September 12, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla (Ó Dónaill)" (in Irish). Retrieved November 11, 2017. 
  10. ^ "İstanbul'a kış 20 Ocak'ta gelecek!" (in Turkish). Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
  11. ^

External linksEdit