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Autumn, also known as fall in America, is one of the four weather seasons. During autumn, nighttime begins noticeably earlier than during the long, lazy days of summer.
The dates of the Fall season actually vary by culture. In the US, meteorologists define autumn based on specific months, with fall occurring September, October and November. In the traditional East Asian solar calendar, autumn starts in August and ends in early November. In Australia, autumn officially begins on March first and ends on May 31st, because of Australia's location in the southern hemisphere.
It is no surprise that harvest and weather images dominate Autumn's themes and images in our popular culture. In Western cultures, autumn is typically represented with harvest themes - with imagery of fruits, pumpkins, squashes, grains, and other items that are harvested during the fall. Many ancient cultures celebrated autumnal festivals of the harvest which were often some of the most important holidays on their respective calendars. Remnants of these celebrations are still found in the mid-autumn holidays such as the Sukkot holiday on the Jewish calendar, the American Thanksgiving and Canadian Thanksgiving holidays, the Chinese Moon festival, and many others. Also, there are many North American native Indian celebrations that are connected with the harvest of autumnally ripe foods that they gathered in the wild. The predominant mood of these autumnal celebrations is thanksgiving for the generous bounty of the earth combined with some melancholy due to the impending arrival of winter weather.
Thanksgiving is certainly the most important fall holiday in the US. Currently celebrated every year on the 4th Thursday in November, Thanksgiving has been an annual tradition in America since the Civil War. Historically, Thanksgiving was a religious observation to give thanks to God for the harvest and to pray for their survival through the long, cold winter.
In 1621, the colonists of Plymouth and the Wampanoag Indians held a fall harvest feast that is recognized today as the first Thanksgiving celebration in the British US colonies. Believe it or not, that first Thanksgiving feast lasted 3 days and featured enough food for over 50 pilgrims plus almost 100 Native Americans. William Bradford once said that, "besides waterfowl, there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many," a quote that most certainly started the longtime American tradition of turkey at Thanksgiving.
Even though Thanksgiving held in Plymouth was the most well known, historians know about other festivals of thanksgiving among other European settlers in America. The 1619 festival in Berkley, Virginia has been acknowledged by some historians and scholars as the real first Thanksgiving among European settlers on record. This legacy of giving thanks, coupled with a huge feast, has survived several centuries, with millions of Americans gathering family, friends, and lots of food for their annual Thanksgiving feast!
For more than two hundred years, Thanksgiving Days were marked by individual states and colonies. However, it wasn't until 1863 that an official Thanksgiving Day was declared nationally to be held every November. In addition to these feasts, American nurses and medical professionals celebrate the fall, harvest, and Thanksgiving season by wearing festive clothing such as Tafford thanksgiving nursing uniforms and autumn scrubs. Additionally, while not official, the Thanksgiving holiday is often viewed as a celebration of autumn and an unofficial start to the Christmas and holiday season, which ends shortly after New Year's Day.