What a change of season means

by Carmen Visser


Spring officially started on 1 September – although the recent winds, rain and snow might not convince you. Nonetheless, Spring is now in the southern hemisphere. What does this change of season mean?


The change of season from winter to spring is well-known for its warmer temperatures and blooming flowers. All of these blossoming buds sense that the days are longer and they know it is time to grow. Unsurprising, Spring is the time when roots of planted seeds start to grow too. With all these new plants, some carbon dioxide is pulled from our atmosphere for photosynthesis.


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Spring is also when the animals of this earth seem to suddenly gain energy, especially those that hibernate through the winter. Birds and other creatures who migrated to warmer locations for the colder seasons also return to their homes.


In addition, in Spring the days start to get longer. This means that we have more hours of sunshine per day than we previously did. You are likely spending more time outside, absorbing fresh air and producing more Vitamin D. A university study shows that this extra sunshine leaves you in a happier mood, gives you a better memory and stimulates your creative juices.


Personally, the change of season into spring is my favourite. I love seeing (and smelling) the bright blossoming flowers and vegetation. Overall, the world just seems to buzz. Spring is also the start of the swimming season – an exhilarating time for a water baby like myself!

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While Spring is often thought of in conjunction with sunshine and happiness, the other three seasons have different connotations.


Summer is often associated with heat and holidays. In the southern hemisphere, we experience quite high temperatures during the summer months. Depending on your location, the summer days are often sunny and hot. Furthermore, schools and universities often have long holidays during this time, giving us plenty of time to chill, swim and make memories.


Autumn, on the other hand, is less bright. Temperatures and leaves fall. There are often strong winds and miserable days, but beauty can still be found. The colour palette of yellow, orange, brown and red evokes feelings of love and warmth. Many spend their Autumn days under thick blankets with hot beverages.


Winter is often considered cold and harsh. With bitterly freezing temperatures, gloomy rainstorms and short days, winter might seem like a depressing season. However, fireplaces, books and scarves are there to brighten up your days! Winter is all about going outside despite the weather and having fun.


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You may have wondered what the scientific reasoning is for season changes. This is all due to the spinning earth and the sun.


The earth spins around an axis every day. This axis is an imaginary straight line that runs from the north pole to the south pole. Earth also follows an orbit path around the sun, which takes a full year to complete. While our planet spins and orbits, one of the poles are tilted towards the sun, either the north pole or the south pole. This determines our seasons.


When the north pole is tilted towards the sun, the northern hemisphere experiences more hours of sunshine and higher temperatures due to the fact that these countries are physically closer to the sun. Likewise, when the south pole is tipped towards the sun, the southern hemisphere experiences the longer and hotter days.


This tilt also means that locations closer to the equator experience smaller differences between their seasons due to their distance from the sun. Overall, the northern and southern hemisphere seasons work in opposite ways. When the northern hemisphere has summer, the southern hemisphere has winter and vice versa.


The seasons and their properties are fairly common knowledge. Many of us learnt about the contrasting times in primary school, but we never learnt how the seasons got their names.

Although there is no one specifically given fame for discovering the seasons or naming them, the scientific reasoning explaining them was discovered by Hipparchus of Nicaea. He discovered the earth’s tilt in 150BC.


Here is how the seasons got their names:

• Spring – originally, this season was called “lent” in old English. This was changed to “springing time” which got shortened to “springtime” and eventually became simply just “spring”.

• Summer – this name came from a long line of derived foreign terms. Summer comes from the old English term, “sumor”, which comes from the Proto-Germanic term, “sumur”, which comes from the Proto-Indo-European term “sam”.

• Autumn – this word has been created from the Old French term, “autompne” and the Latin term, “autumnus”.

• Winter – this term was derived from the Proto-Germanic term, “wentruz”, which is thought to come from the Proto-Indo-European term “wed”.


Luckily, it seems like the names of our seasons have finally stuck and probably will not be changed again anytime soon. Although, the exact conditions of spring, summer, autumn and winter have changed over time and will continue to do so.


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