6 Facts You Might Not Know About Fall
On September 22nd at 7:29, we celebrate the first day of fall or the fall equinox. Popular assumption is that we get 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness — that actually happens on September 25th this year. But that’s not the only interesting fact surrounding fall, here are 6 facts you might not know about fall.
Squirrels and Nuts Squirrels are known to collect nuts in the fall and store them to eat in the winter (where we get the term “squirreling away”). Red squirrels store them in piles where they dry out but gray squirrels bury their nuts. Gray squirrels tend to forget where they bury most of the nuts. Those nuts don’t dry out but take root and develop to be big trees. If it weren’t for forgetful gray squirrels, we might not have as many oak and walnut forests which depend on gray squirrels to thrive and grow.
Pumpkins We carve them for Halloween and put them in pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas because 80% of the pumpkin supply in the United States is only available in October. And, while we enjoy our spiced pie fillings, pumpkins were originally used for the pie crust and not the filling.
Cider Hot spiced apple cider keeps us warm on chilly fall nights and we don’t stop drinking it until the holidays are over. In New Hampshire, though, they celebrate cider all year (even if it’s not available all year). New Hampshire’s appreciation for the hot fall beverage is so deep that in 2010, cider beat out milk as the official state beverage.
Gourds Starting in September, we start seeing gourds everywhere — in a centerpiece for big fall dinners, on decorative door wreaths and to dress up the mantel to welcome fall. While we use them for decor now, Native Americans had a more practical use for them. In the 1700s, gourds were used by Choctaw and Chickasaw native American tribes as bird feeders to attract purple martins to keep bugs out of their villages.
Apples The apples you know and love — the ones that fill an apple pie, are boiled down for a spiced cider and give a juicy crunch to caramel as a caramel apple — aren’t native to North America. When the English settled in the northeast, the only apples they found were crabapples — those tiny bits of fruit that can really only be used for making jelly. Unsatisfied with the crabapple, the English brought over seeds to plant apple trees in the New World. Now apple trees grow in all 50 states.
Scarecrows While scarecrows are a favorite fall symbol, they are not native to North America. One of the earliest scarecrows was used by Greeks to scare birds away from grape vineyards. They were made to look like Priapus, the son of Greek god Dionysus and goddess Aphrodite. Priapus was said to be very ugly and legend has it, while playing in the vineyards, he scared all the birds away and the farmers had a bountiful harvest.
With or without the little known facts, the colors of the changing leaves, the chill in the air and anticipation of the holidays is interesting enough to make it one of our favorite seasons.