Franklin Fact Archive
Back to Franklin Facts homepage.
Back to TV12
THURSDAY OCTOBER 26 - INDIAN SUMMER, PART 2
Last night I told you about the "weather side" of "Indian Summer." Tonight I
thought I'd look a little into its history. The earliest written use of "Indian
Summer" in the U.S. dates from the late 1700s. Here's a portion of a letter
written in 1778 by a French settler:
"Sometimes the rain is followed by an
interval of calm and warmth which is called the Indian Summer; its characteristics
are a tranquil atmosphere and general smokiness."
The way the letter's phrased,
it's clear that the term "Indian Summer" was already being used at that time.
The term may be related to the way Native Americans used the extra period of
warmth to increase their stores for winter. Another possibility is that the
colonists invented terms such as Indian corn and Indian tea - and maybe Indian
Summer - to describe something that resembled the real thing as they had known
it in Europe. European folklore does have Indian Summer equivalents: for example,
it's called "St. Martin's Summer" in England.
Though there is uncertainty as to the origin of the term, one thing is for
sure - Indian Summer never lasts!