When unseasonably warm weather is expected, you'll often hear people referring to it as an "Indian summer". What does that even mean and where did the expression come from?

We're expecting some warm weather next week, with temperatures as high as 80 degrees - and it's September. Polly Wog, from Big Frog 104, called it an 'Indian summer'. According to the Farmer's Almanac, she's wrong - and she's not alone. Turns out, there are some pretty specific requirements for a stretch of warm weather to be considered a real 'Indian summer.' Who knew?

First, the warm weather has to occur between November 11 and November 20. The weather can't just be warm, it has to include a hazy or smoky atmosphere and it must follow a stretch of cold weather or a hard frost.

Why is it called 'Indian Summer'?

Depends on who you ask. There's no straightforward answer and theories abound. Most center around Native Americans (obviously) and their activities during the early fall.

The Farmer's Almanac theorizes that the term was coined by early American settlers:

The most probable origin of the term, in our view, goes back to the very early settlers in New England. Each year they would welcome the arrival of a cold wintry weather in late October when they could leave their stockades unarmed. But then came a time when it would suddenly turn warm again, and the Native Americans would decide to have one more go at the settlers. “Indian summer,” the settlers called it.

 

The Mountain Eagle has a different idea about the term's origin:

One explanation of the term Indian summer might be that the early native Indians chose that time of year as their hunting season. This seems reasonable seeing the fall months are still considered the main hunting season for several animals. Also, the mild and hazy weather encourages the animals out, and the haziness of the air gives the hunter the advantage to sneak up on its prey without being detected.

In any event, an Indian Summer is a pretty specific term. Looks like warm weather in September is just, well...good luck and a chance to enjoy the outdoors.


 

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