Fall, also known as “autumn,” occurs right after summer and before winter. It begins on the Autumnal Equinox, which is when the sunset and sunrise are about twelve hours apart anywhere in the world. The season ends on the Winter Solstice. Days in the fall get shorter and temperatures begin to drop. In the northern hemisphere, fall takes place between mid-September and mid-November. In the southern hemisphere, fall is opposite, occurring between mid-March and mid-June—when spring has sprung in the northern part of the globe. It is also the time when most schools begin their new school year.
During the fall, many trees have leaves that begin to die due to lack of water and sun. Though dying is usually a morbid event, it is actually a beautiful spectacle and can be lots of fun. Why? Well, the leaves on deciduous trees convert from green to golden yellow, bright orange, and a strong crimson red color. As the leaves die, they fall to the ground. People often rake the leaves together in piles, which are fun to jump into!
The fall is also a time for nature to make some changes. For instance, plants begin their reproduction cycle. Trees drop their seeds onto the ground so they can lay dormant through winter. Then in the spring, the plants begin to bud and sprout. Animals also sense the arrival of cool weather and start to prepare for winter. Some animals begin to hibernate, which is a state of dormant, deep sleep. Bears, bats, groundhogs, snakes, skunks, and other animals build and store body fat in order to have a source of energy as they hibernate. Other than those birds that have adapted to live in cold weather, most birds fly south in the fall in order to spend the winter in warmer weather. They return to their more northern home areas after winter ends.
All over the world, different holidays are celebrated during autumn. In the United States, the two most recognized fall holidays are Halloween, which takes place on October 31st, and Thanksgiving, which happens on the fourth Thursday of November. On Halloween, people dress in costumes and walk around saying “trick or treat,” which generally leads to them receiving candy or other sweet treats. Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to gather together and have a feast that usually revolves around a cooked turkey, stuffing, and other traditional foods. The day is modeled after the feast that Pilgrims and Native Americans shared long ago to celebrate a plentiful harvest.
Other countries have fall celebrations as well. These include el Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, in Mexico; Diwali, or Festival of Lights, and Ganesh Chaturthi, celebrated in India; Masskara Festival in the Philippines; Oktoberfest in Germany; and the Jidai Matusir Festival of Ages in Kyoto, Japan.
The fall has long been a time for people to celebrate the start of a new harvest and a time for change. For teachers, this is a great time to teach students about the science behind the change of seasons, as well as an opportunity to teach about cultures and practices around the world.