Indian summer

Indian summer

An Indian summer is a period of unseasonably warm, dry weather that sometimes occurs in autumn in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Several references describe a true Indian summer as not occurring until after the first frost, or more specifically the first "killing" frost.[1][2][3]

As of January 2020, the "Indian summer" entry in the glossary of the American Meteorological Society reads, "The use of this term is discouraged. It is considered a relic of the past and disrespectful of Native American people. The recommended term to describe this phenomenon is Second Summer."[4]


The late 19th-century lexicographer Albert Matthews made an exhaustive search of early American literature in an attempt to discover who coined the expression.[5] The earliest reference he found dated to 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 circa 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.[6]

Although the exact origins of the term are uncertain,[7] it was perhaps so-called because it was first noted in regions inhabited by Native Americans, or because the Natives first described it to Europeans,[8] or it had been based on the warm and hazy conditions in autumn when Native Americans hunted.[7] Because the warm weather is not a permanent gift, the connection has been made to the term Indian giver.[9] It is also suggested that it comes from historic native American legends, granted by the God or 'Life-Giver' to various warriors or men, to allow them to survive after great misfortune, such as loss of crops.[10][11]


Weather historian William R. Deedler wrote that Indian Summer can be defined as "any spell of warm, quiet, hazy weather that may occur in October or November," though he noted that he "was surprised to read that Indian Summers have been given cr for warm spells as late as December and January." Deedler also noted that some writers only use Indian summer in reference to the weather in New England, "while others have stated it happens over most of the United States, even along the Pacific coast."[3]

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.[12] 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 onward, 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.[13]

In the English translation of Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, the term is used to describe the unseasonably warm weather leading up to the October Revolution.[14]

Other names and similar phenomena[]

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 (Hungarian: vénasszonyok nyara), Estonia (Estonian: vananaistesuvi), and in a number of Slavic-language countries—for example, in Czechia, Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, Russia[15] and Slovenia, – it is known as "(old) women's summer" (Czech: babí léto, Ukrainian: бабине літо, Polish: babie lato, Slovak: babie leto, Russian: бабье лето, IPA: [ˈbabʲjə ˈlʲetə]. In Bulgaria it is known as "gypsy summer" or "poor man's summer" and in Serbia it is known as "Miholjsko leto" because Saint Michael or "Miholjdan" is celebrated on October 12. In Sweden, there's "Brittsommar" (out of "Birgitta" and "Britta", having their name days around the time, October 7). In Finland,[16] the period is today called "intiaanikesä", a direct translation, but historically a warm period in autumn was named after Bartholomew, his saint day being in late August. In Gaelic Ireland, the phenomenon is called "fómhar beag na ngéanna" (little autumn of the geese).[17]

In temperate parts of South America—such as southernmost Brazil, Argentina, Chile 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 Maio" ("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 (Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and Malta), St. Michael's summer ("Miholjsko leto", Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina), St. Martin's Day (Netherlands), St. Demetrius (Greece and Cyprus), Bridget of Sweden in Sweden, and Saint Michael the Archangel in Wales. In Turkey it is called pastırma yazı, meaning pastrami summer, since the month of November was considered to be the best time to make pastırma (the meat that, though slightly different, pastrami originated from).[18]

The American Meteorological Society also notes that a similar phenomenon may be referred to poetically as halcyon days, a term that originated in Greek mythology.[1][19] "All-hallown summer" or "All Saints' summer" is also referenced in English folklore and by Shakespeare, but its use appears to have died out.[1][20]

In media[]

Board games[]




Movies and television[]


See also[]


  1. ^ a b c "Second summer- Glossary of Meteorology, American Meteorological Society". October 25, 2020.
  2. ^ "What Is "Indian Summer" Or "Second Summer"?". November 1, 2021.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "Indian summer- Glossary of Meteorology, American Meteorological Society". January 19, 2020.
  5. ^ Matthews, Albert (February 1902). "The Term {{subst:lc:Indian}} Summer". Monthly Weather Review. 30 (2): 69–80. Bibcode:1902MWRv...30...69M. doi:10.1175/1520-0493-30.2.69c.
  6. ^ Sweeting, Adam W. (2003). Beneath the Second Sun: A Cultural History of Indian Summer. New Hampshire. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-1-58465-314-1.
  7. ^ a b "Hints of an Indian Summer". BBC. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
  8. ^ "Indian summer". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
  9. ^ "Who put the 'Indian' in Indian summer?". September 17, 2018 – via Christian Science Monitor.
  10. ^ "Indian Summer". Retrieved May 13, 2021.
  11. ^ "Native American Indian Weather Legends from the Myths of Many Tribes".
  12. ^ Commager, Henry Steele (August 18, 1940). "In New England's Lesser Days" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
  13. ^ "Indian summer: What exactly is it?". BBC. October 1, 2011. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
  14. ^ Pasternak, Boris Leonidovich; Gutiérrez, Fernando (1994). El doctor Zhivago. Barcelona: RBA. ISBN 844730681X. OCLC 434433796.
  15. ^ "БАБЬЕ ЛЕТО • Большая российская энциклопедия - электронная версия". Retrieved September 17, 2021.
  16. ^ Kallio, Jussi (October 13, 2009). "Intiaanikesä". Kotimaisten kielten keskus (in Finnish). Retrieved September 12, 2015.
  17. ^ "Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla (Ó Dónaill)" (in Irish). Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  18. ^ "İstanbul'a kış 20 Ocak'ta gelecek!" (in Turkish). Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  19. ^ "Halcyon days- Glossary of Meteorology, American Meteorological Society". November 13, 2021.
  20. ^ "All-hallown summer- Glossary of Meteorology, American Meteorological Society". November 13, 2021.
  21. ^ Cooke, Chris (March 4, 2013). "Sweat It Out Records founder dies". Complete Music Update. Retrieved September 12, 2019. he launched his own label Sweat It Out Records, which signed the likes of Indian Summer, Loot & Plunder and Yolanda Be Cool
  22. ^ "Jai Wolf - Indian Summer". SoundCloud.
  23. ^ "Too Much Rock Single Series".
  24. ^ Sandeen, Ernest (December 1967). "Delight deterred by retrospect: Emily Dickinson's Late-Summer Poems". The New England Quarterly. 40 (4): 483–500. doi:10.2307/363554. JSTOR 363554.

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