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An Indian summer is a heat wave that occurs in the autumn. It refers to a period of considerably above-normal temperatures, accompanied by dry and hazy conditions, usually after there has been a killing frost. Depending on latitude and elevation, it can occur in the Northern Hemisphere between late September and mid November.
An Indian summer is a period of unseasonably warm, dry weather, occurring after the end of summer proper. The US National Weather Service defines this as weather conditions that are sunny and clear with temperatures above 21 °C (70 °F), following a sharp frost. It is normally associated with late-September to mid-November.
A famous use of the phrase in American literature is the title of Van Wyck Brooks' New England: Indian Summer (1940), chosen to suggest inconsistency, infertility, and depleted capabilities, a period of seemingly robust strength that is only an imitation of an earlier season of actual strength.
Origin and early use 
The expression 'Indian summer' has been used for more than two centuries. The earliest known use was by French-American writer John Hector St. John de Crevecoeur in rural New York in 1778: "Then a severe frost succeeds which prepares it to receive the voluminous coat of snow which is soon to follow; though it is often preceded by a short interval of smoke and mildness, called the Indian Summer." Its etymology is uncertain:
- Rev. Joseph Doddridge reported that in the late 18th century in Western Virginia and Pennsylvania, settlers used the term to describe the weather that allowed American Indian war parties to renew their attacks on European settlements.
- Two army officers who led retaliation expeditions against Indians for winter raiding parties on settlers used the term without explaining its origins, one when describing operations in Ohio and Indiana in 1790, the other in Pennsylvania in 1794.
- Catharine Parr Traill, in an account of her settler's life in Canada in the 1830s, described how she anticipated Indian summer "of which I have read such delightful descriptions, but I must say it has fallen far below my expectations" because "its hazy days...proved rather warm and oppressive" and periods of stagnant air alternated with high winds that left the trees leafless. She mocked the notion held by some travelers−not settlers−that heat from forest fires set by First Nations peoples "beyond the larger lakes" caused the return of warmer temperatures and offered her own theory that the heat derived from the fermentation of vegetation in the vast Canadian forests in late October and early November. She predicted the phenomenon would become less marked as the region became settled and wrote "I have heard the difference is already observable by those long acquainted with the American continent."
- The Northeastern Native American tribe who called themselves Alnobak, or "the people," more commonly Abenaki among outsiders, called a warm autumn spell a "person's summer" or Alnobainiben. As to an outsider their word for "the people" became their tribal name, their word "person's summer" would be "Abenaki summer," or later "Indian summer."
- In a number of phrases, the adjective Indian means false, and some linguists believe the phrase Indian summer parallels the formation of Indian giver, Indian corn, and Indian burn, phrases that describe something that is similar to but not actually one who gives, a form of corn, or a flame-induced injury.
Equivalent phrases and variations 
In British English St. Martin's Summer was the most widely used term until the American phrase became better known in the 20th century. In the United Kingdom, the term Indian summer is used loosely for a period of unseasonable warmth and sunshine in late September, October, or November. In former times in English-speaking regions of Europe, 'Indian summer' was called Saint Martin's Summer, referring to St. Martin's day, November 11. An alternative was Saint Luke's summer. Another alternative was "All-hallown summer", as All Hallows' is November 1. In the United Kingdom Indian summer is often used to describe warm weather that comes late in the year after unusually cool summer months.
In some regions of the southwestern United States, Indian summer is used colloquially to describe very different weather phenomena, including the hottest times of the year, typically in late July or August. In the desert southwestern United States, where frost is rare, the term is sometimes used to refer to a brief period of hot dry weather which occurs after the hottest months and before the onset of winter cool and/or rain, typically in October or November. It may also be used to refer to any unseasonably warm weather during the first few weeks of the rainy season, before the approach of spring. In the Pacific Northwest, the term can be used to describe a period of warm, dry weather after the first fall rains have occurred.
In Welsh, it is known as Haf Bach Mihangel or (St.) Michael's Little Summer.
In Italy, St Martin's summer, Estate di San Martino, is expected and celebrated as a rural tradition with ancient origins and is marked by a festival on November 11.
In Spain, an unseasonable spell of warm weather in autumn is called Veranillo de San Miguel or Veranillo de San Martín, depending when it occurs. It can also be called Veranillo del Membrillo (little summer of the quince). Other regions use the same term in their own language, Veraninho de San Martinho in Galicia.
In many Slavic-speaking countries, the season is called Old Ladies' Summer: in Russia Babye Leto (Бабье лето), in Poland Babie Lato, in Ukraine Babyne Lito (Бабине літо), in Czech Republic Babí léto, in Slovakia Babie leto, in Croatia Bablje ljeto and in Slovenia Babje leto. In Bulgaria, the phenomenon is sometimes called "Gypsy Summer" (Bulgarian: циганско лято, tsigansko lyato) and in some places "Gypsy Christmas" and refers to unseasonably warm weather in late fall, or a warm spell in between cold periods. In Serbia it is called Miholjsko leto (Serbian: Михољско лето) by the name of the orthodox saint from the 6th century Kiriak Otshelnik (Serbian: Свети Киријак Отшелник) known as well as Saint Miholj who is celebrated each year on the same day named by him as Miholjdan – October 12. The warm period usually surrounds this date.
In Sweden it is called "brittsommar", which is derived from Birgitta and Britta, who have their name day in the Swedish calendar on October 7, when Britt Mass, an official fall open-air market, was held.
In Hungary, it's "vénasszonyok nyara" (Old Ladies' Summer or Crone's Summer) because the many white spiders seen at this time of the year have been associated with the norns of Norse folklore or medieval witches.
In the Netherlands it is sometimes called "oudewijvenzomer" or "sint-michielszomer" ("St. Michael's Summer"), although the term "nazomer" ("late summer") is used more often. In Flanders (Belgium) it is also called "Oudewijvenzomer" (Old Ladies' Summer) or "Trezekeszomer" ("St-Theresa's Summer – St-Theresa's Day" being on October 15), although the term "nazomer" ("late summer") is used more.
In Lithuania this time is called "Bobų vasara", "summer of old ladies".
In Latvia this period is called "Atvasara", meaning "re-summer" or "return/repeat/flashback of summer".
In Turkey the term used is "pastırma", meaning highly spiced.
In China, this period is called "qiū lǎohǔ" (秋老虎), which literally means 'a tiger in autumn'. In Chinese, it signifies the revival of often fierce, summer-like heat that persists well past the Beginning of Autumn (the 13th seasonal division point according to the Chinese calendar, usually falling on August 7 or 8). This hot weather may persist until well into October or November in the southern regions.
In the south of Brazil, a similar phenomenon is called "veranico de maio", a regional term roughly meaning "little summer of May", representing a short span of hot weather that occurs mid-autumn.
Indian Summer can occur in Australia during the months of April and May, when in Sydney week-long stretches of above average, warm temperatures can occur.
See also 
- Deedler, William (Fall 1996). "Just What Is Indian Summer And Did Indians Really Have Anything To Do With It?". National Weather Service Detroit office.
- Commager, Henry Steele (August 18, 1940). "IN New England's Lesser Days". New York Times. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
- Daniel J. Boorstin, The Americans: The Colonial Experience (NY: Random House, 1958), 349, citing Joseph Doddridge, Notes, on the Settlement and Indian Wars of the Western Parts of Virginia and of Pennsylvania from 1763 to 1783 (1824)
- Sweeting, Adam (2003). Beneath the Second Sun: A Cultural History of Indian Summer. University Press of New England. p. 16.
- Parr Traill, Catharine (1836). The Backwoods of Canada: Being Letters from the Wife of an Emigrant Officer, Illustrative of the Domestic Economy of British America. Toronto: New Canadian Library. pp. 91–92. There are several editions of Traill's letter. See November 20, 1832.
- Caduto, Michael (2003). A Time Before New Hampshire: The Story of a Land and Native Peoples. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England. p. 183.
- Safire, William (November 10, 1996). "Take the DARE". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
- BBC Website : Indian Summer - Exactly What Is It?
- Indian Summer Article – National Weather Service
- A close look at Indian summer, USA Today
- Babye Leto – what does it mean?
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