Jud's Journal: Indian Summer

November 19, 2010

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A lot of readers ask the Almanac these two questions every year: What and when is an Indian Summer? When is Easter?

Listen as Judson Hale, Editor-in-Chief of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, answers these questions and other FAQ’s with his usual lighthearted sense of humor.

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Concur with Jud's interpretation of 'Indian Summer'

Jud's interpretation of 'Indian Summer' is consistent with stories and lore passed down in my family through generations. Probably, there were variations of the incidence of 'Indian Summer' after a 'hard frost' from late September through the end of November, though origins rely on St. Martin's day as a reference point. Nevertheless, preserved records from settlements/colonies support the claim that raids on European-American settlements tended to slow in cold weather months. Most likely true, also, settlers probably participated in much less-documented native land grabs during warm weather months. Some, as David Hamilton and his family, were unfortunately slaughtered in late September in 1691 while gathering firewood not terribly far from their home for the coming winter months. We are not told of motives or events which led to that violence or really, exactly who it was that killed the Hamilton family. These ancient weather-related stories and lore may understandably cause offense to some Native American tribes in New England, so we must remain sensitive when fully explaining tensions as Europeans immigrated into territories that were previously occupied by indigenous peoples. Weather patterns in New England played an integral part of colonial/indigenous responses during times of war and peace, and remain a vital element of New England's recorded history. In 2019, New Hampshire has already had a frost by September 23. Climate change and other weather events impact the annual natural occurrence of the late, last warm air before the full force of winter hits the ground. The Old Farmer's Almanac has proven fairly reliable in helping to determine the predictability of weather patterns throughout centuries. Thanks to Jud's Journal for including this fact in the video.

Indian Summer

Does it matter what part of the region the hazy warmth and chilly nights occur, seeing it would be different in the South. I know, I know, it's not so much even the weathers, it is folklore about Indians taking from the settlers barns.

Where is Indian Summer

The Editors's picture

There are different definitions of Indian summer. At The Old Farmer’s Almanac, we’ve held to the definition that it is a period of warm weather following a cold spell or a hard frost that can occur between St. Martin’s Day (November 11) and November 20. One weather proverb says, “If All Saints’ (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin’s brings out Indian summer.” Depending on the definition one uses, it varies as to where it can be experienced. Some say it is confined to New England, while others indicate that it can occur anywhere that experiences fall frosts or cold spells. In other countries, the name for this phenomenon may differ, but several can experience a similar period of mild fall weather during the time that cold is strengthening its hold.

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