Tuesday, October 01, 2013

5 Interesting Differences Between British Autumn and American Fall

Located in the northern hemisphere, both the United States and Great Britain (from an astronomical point of view) enter autumn at the start of the September equinox, as opposed to countries in the Southern hemisphere, who welcome this transitional season during the month of March. However, while the U.S. and Britain might enjoy autumn at the same time of year, there are a number of interesting differences in how the season plays out from one country to the other. Here are 5 such differences.

1. The name
Recently, on Lost In The Pond's Facebook page, I asked the following question: "autumn vs. fall. Which do you use?". One of the trending responses from my American readers was that they used fall, but preferred autumn as a word. Either way, autumn (aside from its application as a girl's first name) is not in wide use in the United States, while Brits almost never say fall, unless they are trying to sound like an American.

2. Prevalence of pumpkins
Americans, at least those where I live in the Midwest, really, really love their pumpkins at this time of year. Every fall, pumpkin-flavo(u)red coffee and beer hits the shelves, while virtually every grocery store in the country has real pumpkins on display ahead of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Around 500 million pumpkins are produced in the state of Illinois alone, while in the entire UK, whose production has been badly hit in the last couple of years, around only 4 million are produced - three-quarters of them at a farm in Spalding, Lincolnshire.

3. The colo(u)r of the leaves
In Indiana, it is widely agreed that the state boasts no greater sight than that of the colorful leaves, as they prepare to fall to the ground in Brown County. Rich in various colo(u)rs from all across the spectrum, the leaves are a different kind of beauty to the many types that fall throughout Britain. Meanwhile, one other observation I have made is that a leaf blower is in much wider use in the U.S. than across the Pond.

4. Changing of the clocks
While both countries put the clock back an hour during autumn to denote the end of either summer time (in Britain) or daylight savings time (in the United States), it is less known that these changes occur on different dates. For instance, this year (2013) the UK alters its clocks on the 27th of October, while the U.S. changes back a week later on November 3.

5. Halloween

The differences here are so numerous, they almost deserve an entire post to themselves (watch this space). Like a lot of fun things at the time, Halloween was opposed by the puritans of New England during the 18th century, and only caught on stateside following the arrival of Scottish and Irish immigrants a century later. Historically, the United States was the only country to incorporate pumpkins into the festivities, though, as mentioned above, the practice eventually caught on in Britain. Meanwhile, though both places are rife this time of year with monster-themed costumes, the United States inevitably took things a step further by including costumes of any fictional character or celebrity imaginable.

Laurence Brown is a British man writing his way through the truly bizarre world of America - a place he sometimes accidentally calls home and a place he still hasn't quite figured out after seven years. Thankfully, his journey is made 12% easier by the fact that his accent makes him sound much smarter than he is. For evidence of this, subscribe to his popular Lost in the Pond web series over on YouTube.

6 comments:

Linda Fox said...

I love Brown County in the Fall. It's so beautiful!

Laurence Brown said...

Gosh, isn't it? I'm heading down there soon to take lots of pictures.

ymuchomas.com said...

I love that you mentioned Brown County. It really is wondrous in autumn/fall.

Anonymous said...

Vermont is better.

Passacaglia said...

"...they used fall, but preferred autumn as a word". So true. "Autumn" seems to have a poetic feel, focusing specifically on the changes taking place in nature, while "fall" seems practical, referring more to the period of time and events that happen to take place during it.

Unknown said...

I miss conkers :(

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