Autumn in the UK – UK Culture – Online English Lessons

Updated September 2013.

Autumn has arrived here in the UK and a new academic year is well under way.

I love autumn – it’s my favourite season of the year 🙂

In the northern hemisphere, autumn is the months of September, October and November.

In North America and Canada ‘autumn’ is usually called ‘fall’.

In the UK the weather becomes colder and leaves start to change colour and fall off the trees. As always here, we can get all types of weather; but typical autumn weather includes rainy days, windy days, and cold frosty mornings.

Sometimes we have an Indian Summer – a period of warm sunny weather after a period of cold or frosty weather in late autumn or early winter

The days get noticeably shorter in autumn and at the Autumn Equinox (September 22nd in 2013) day and night are approximately the same length.

A celebration of the Autumn Equinox will take place at Stonehenge at sunrise on Monday 23rd September.

British Summer Time (BST) ends on Sunday 27th October 2013, and the clocks go back one hour at 2am. The UK will be on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) until 30th March 2013, when the clocks will go forwards one hour.

 Significant autumn dates and festivals in the UK include:

Halloween

Bonfire Night

Remembrance Day

Stir-up Sunday

St. Andrew’s Day

and Harvest Festival. Harvest Festival is a Christian celebration held in schools and churches in September or October. It’s held to celebrate a successful harvest and to give thanks for the food from the harvest.

Idioms for autumn

go to seed – if a person runs to seed (or goes to seed) they stop taking care of themselves and their appearance. If a place has gone to seed it has become run-down and neglected.

the autumn of one’s life or the autumn years – the later years of a person’s life.

Example:

She spent her autumn years living on a canal boat and writing her memoirs.

Phrasal verbs for autumn

leaf through – to leaf through something is to turn the pages of a book, magazine or pile of papers quickly, and without looking at them carefully or reading them.

Example:

She sat in the garden leafing through her English books and worrying about her exam.

squirrel away – to squirrel away something (or squirrel something away) is to store something (especially money) in a safe or secret place so you can use it later.

A squirrel is a tree-dwelling rodent with a long bushy tail, that eats mainly nuts, berries and seeds.

Squirrels bury nuts and other food underground in autumn. During the cold winter months they eat these hidden stores of food. This is the origin of the phrasal verb squirrel away.

Example:

He had £30,000 squirrelled away in a secret bank account.

wrap up – to wrap up means to wear warm clothes or cover oneself (or somebody else) with something to keep out the cold.

Example:

It was a bitterly cold day so we wrapped up well against the wind and rain.

Capital letters and seasons

The names of the seasons are not usually written with a capital letter.

Example:

I love the colours of the trees in autumn.

If the season is the first word in a sentence it does have a capital letter, of course.

Example:

Autumn is my favourite time of year.

A capital letter is used for seasons if they form part of a proper noun:

We went to see the Winter Olympics in Canada.

The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year north of the equator.

If the season is personified (given human qualities) it has a capital letter.

Example:

That year, Winter marched in early.

See this post for some weather idioms, including ‘raining cats and dogs’, ‘bucket down’, ‘there’s something in the wind’, and ‘sail close to the wind’ – perfect for autumn weather in the UK 🙂

Here are some beautiful photos of autumn colours from the National Geographic.

What’s the weather like in your country during September, October and November?

And what’s your favourite season? 🙂

Images © Stefan Munder and NeilsPhotography and Don O’Brien and Yogendra Joshi and Angela Boothroyd.