In 2023, Autumn will last from September 23 until December 22, which is when Winter starts. 

In the Northern Hemisphere, the astronomical Start of Autumn is on September 23. This day is also known as the Autumnal Equinox.

Autumn is the transitional season between Summer and Winter.

Yellow letters depicting the word Autumn on grass

What is the Autumnal Equinox?

The Autumnal Equinox is also known as the Fall or September Equinox. It happens when the Sun crosses the celestial equator towards the South. This event marks the start of Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of Spring in the Southern Hemisphere. 

In Latin, Equinox means "equal night". On the day of the Autumnal Equinox, day and night are roughly the same lengths. After the Autumnal Equinox, the days start to get shorter and the nights get longer, as the Sun rises late and sets early. 

Learn more about the Autumnal Equinox.

Characteristics of Autumn

With the transition from Summer into Autumn, the temperatures start getting colder, and the days become shorter. The change in weather and sunlight affects vegetation such as plants and trees, whose leaves start turning red, orange, or yellow before they shed. 

Autumn is the perfect season for a game of conkers, that wonderful British game that children past and present have taken part in. As horse-chestnut trees begin to drop their seeds children will make holes in the conkers thread string through them and tie a knot. It's then a competition of swinging and attacking your opponent's conker to see which one is the strongest. 

A conker laying on a rock

There are many ways you can strengthen your conkers, these include:

  • Soaking your conker in vinegar.
  • Baking them in the oven.  
  • Covering them in glue or nail varnish. 

Autumn Traditions, Customs, and Associations

The start of Autumn, and specifically the Autumnal Equinox, is a reason to celebrate in many cultures and religions all over the world. 

One of the most important events that happen with the arrival of Autumn is the Harvest season. Since ancient times, people have been welcoming the harvest season with traditions, rituals, and festivals. The most significant celebration tied to the harvest season in the United Kingdom is the Harvest Festival, which was originally a church celebration to thank God for a bountiful crop. The celebration is still popular in rural communities.

Those of the Jewish faith also celebrate Sukkot during this period. 

harvest crops, vegetables, on a church altar
A traditional harvest festival church celebration.

Harvest: the unknown season

Before the term Autumn came into use, "harvest" was a term that referred to the season. It originates from the word 'haust' which is an old German/Norse word that means 'to gather or pluck'. 

The word autumn comes from the Old French word "autompne" and the Latin word "autumnus," both of which mean "the harvest." The word Autumn appeared in the UK in the Middle Ages, but become the main term for the season and replaced the word harvest by the 18th century.

Pumpkin Season

Across the world, pumpkins and apples are often associated with Autumn, as this is the perfect season to harvest them and use them. 

The popularity of pumpkins during Autumn is also tied to the popular holiday of Halloween. On this day, people carve scary faces and designs into pumpkins, dress up in costumes, decorate their homes, and go trick-or-treating. Even though Halloween is only celebrated on October 31st, people start getting ready for it much earlier, closer to when Autumn starts.

Start of Autumn dates from 2022 to 2027

2022 Thursday, September 22
2023 Friday, September 22
2024 Sunday, September 22
2025 Monday, September 22
2026 Wednesday, September 23
2027 Thursday, September 23

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