Currently Fascinated by the Seasonal Name... Autumn

Currently Fascinated by the Seasonal Name... Autumn - Name Stories

Anne reveled in the world of color about her...“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” --   Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)

Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Remarkably, all four seasons have been employed as female personal names since the 18th century. 

Of the four, however, Autumn is the most popular. In fact, it's a Top 100 female name. Ranked #75 in 2017.

In England, autumn falls between August and October while in the United States it’s September through November.

Interestingly, in the Anglo-Saxon language of Olde English, the fall season was called hærfest (harvest) before being replaced with autumpne (Old French) some time in the 14th century under Norman-French influence (by way of Latin autumnus) meaning "harvest, a time of plenty; the time of gathering crops," probably stemming from Latin auctus meaning, apropos, “to enhance, increase.” In the sense of an abundance of food. 

In Greek Mythology, Demeter was the goddess who presided over the seasons. When Zeus stole her daughter, Persephone, and gave the girl to Hades (god of the underworld), the worried Demeter traveled to the four corners of the earth looking for her precious daughter. Unable to find Persephone, Demeter became so distraught that she ceased producing food on the earth. In order to save the dying earth and starving mortals, Zeus sent for Hermes (the messenger god) to retrieve Persephone from Hades. Hades agreed to let her go providing she didn’t eat any food in the underworld; but the girl unwittingly ate some pomegranate seeds just prior to her release. As a consequence, she is forced to return to the underworld for four months of the year.

According to tradition, Persephone returns to earth during the seasons of autumn, winter and spring, but is back with Hades in the summer (when plant life is not flourishing and exposed to droughts). 

Autumn is a season that has also inspired poets.

William Blake wrote an ode to Autumn in 1783, when "The spirits of the air live in the smells Of fruit; and Joy."

“To Autumn” is a poem written by the English romantic poet, John Keats, in 1819. The poem is highly regarded and considered one of Keat’s finest; The poem is three stanzas and personifies Autumn as a goddess, describing “her” beauty of sights and sounds.

The first stanza addresses Autumn, describing its abundance and its intimacy with the sun, with whom Autumn ripens fruits and causes the late flowers to bloom. In the second stanza, the speaker describes the figure of Autumn as a female goddess, with her hair “soft-lifted” by the wind, and often seen sleeping in the fields or watching a cider-press squeezing the juice from apples.

In the third stanza, the speaker tells Autumn not to wonder where the songs of spring have gone, but instead to listen to her own music.

And that's what Autumn does.


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