With falling leaves, animals scattering off and hiding from the impending cold weather and, of course, Halloween, it’s easy to see why this month could be riddled with superstitions.
This time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere can be particularly spooky compared to the romantic icy winters, the hopeful springs and the (sometimes) scorching summers.
Not so long ago, before we could just pop down to the supermarket and buy our parsnips, potatoes and pork, many people were self sufficient farmers, expected to provide all of their food by themselves. So, their fate was often left up to the weather and the seasons. Understandably many of the superstitions existed because of worries about lack of food for the winter.
Of course, before science helped us understand many of the odd occurrences that happen in the world, people were left up to their own devices to try and explain what was happening all around them. So, here are six strange superstitions about Autumn that used to be believed.
1. Healthy Harvest = Warm Winter
This is one that makes sense in my eyes. If during the autumn, fruits have been in abundance in ripeness it means that the winter isn’t going to be too chilly. This being as fruits need a little bit of warmth in order to ripen – so warm autumn and ripe fruit meant warm winter.
2. Duck and Cover Up
This one’s not exactly ‘quackers’ either – wait, wait, hear me out. Our ancestors thought that if ducks decided to stay late in the year before migrating south, it meant that the autumn had been particularly warm, which in turn meant that the winter was going to be warm too and will come later than expected. Makes sense…. Doesn’t it?
3. Copernicus and…. Onions
A strange superstition again which comes from farming and harvests. It was said that if an onion had thick skin at the end of Autumn, it was going to be a particularly cold winter. If the harvested onion had thin skin, this meant that the winter was going to be a warm one. Like Copernicus read the stars, our farming ancestors read the onions.
Winters were particularly scary for our not-so-distant ancestors because of the impending possibility that they could have frozen or starved to death. So, it’s normal that a lot of the superstitions involved death or dying. Many flowers, or budding plants that bloomed later in the year were most certainly NOT a good sign.
4. A cherry on top – of the casket
If a cherry tree bloomed in Autumn this was terrible juju for you, your friends, or your family members. If you saw the juicy red fruits making an appearance late in the year, this meant that unfortunately someone was going to pop their clogs. And if that wasn’t enough, it also meant the tree was going to wilt and die too.
5. Not so rosey apparitions
Usually roses are associated with love, marriage and generally positive things, depending on how you look at it. However, in the West of Scotland a white rose blooming in the autumn was not a good sign and signified an impending death – but a red rose blooming in Autumn signified that there would be an early marriage. It wasn’t all doom and gloom.
6. Catch a falling leaf
If this is true, I’m going to have a field day explaining this to the office. It is said that if caught on the first day of autumn, a falling leaf could help you avoid a cold or sickness throughout the whole of winter. Some people also said that it was good luck and others that you could make a wish if you caught one.
Nowadays, most of us don’t really have to worry about being chilly or going hungry in the winter. Central heating exists, fridges and freezers have been invented and canned food means that we always have back-up if we need it.
Unfortunately, we still haven’t found a cure for the common cold yet. But, if you’re worried about catching one this winter, just stand under a big old oak tree, wait for a hefty gust and try as you might to catch a falling leaf.
I’m off to the woods. Happy autumn!