Why Do We Love Fall?
Is there more to our obsession than just leaves and sweaters?
Fall is magic.
And it seems no one is immune to its spell. As we wear into the waning days of September and October, social media floods with images of fall foliage and droll references to pumpkin spice. We feel a sense of impending change—as the leaves tarnish into a smoldering mosaic of…
We know winter is coming. We know what lies ahead. Yet, that does nothing to assuage the air of wonderwe all feel as the days contract and summer eases its humid grip. Are we naïve? Are we powerless to resist the litany of social cues and cultural tropes that say, “Love fall! Love fall! Love fall!!”
Or is there something more to the magic we ascribe to the alluring ambience of autumn?
Lucky for you, I have a few thoughts on that.
A Landmark in Time
For many, fall is a temporal landmark. In other words, it’s a point where past and future seem to bifurcate, in our minds. Culturally, this makes sense: fall coincides with the harvest—when the year’s growing season culminates.
Today, in “post-agrarian” society, fall signifies a return to school and the beginnings of a new holiday season. Intuitively, we know we’re going to be spending more time together. Thus, we’re conditioned to associate fall with the resumption of friendships, social obligations and the prospect of fresh opportunities.
In that sense, fall embodies the idea of a new beginning.
And, subjectively, it does feel like that—for me, there’s a sense of renewal I associate with reaching that fall “milestone” each year.
But in every renewal… there is also a conclusion.
Fall is both.
Life & Death
Throughout history… across a myriad of cultures… fall has held an uncannily similar association with death. For the Celtic tribes of Europe, autumn was a time when the world of the dead drifted closer to the world of living. Latin American cultures honor their ancestors on November 1, as part of Dia de Los Muertos. Hindus venerate their dead and conduct rituals to ward off evil spirits, leading up to Diwali in mid-November.
And of course… we’ve got Halloween. And more scary movies than you can count.
But—as macabre as some of this seems, out of context—virtually all of these cultural rites persist in the spirit of celebration. We seem to honor, acknowledge, and embrace the idea of death. But perhaps it’s because we know, subconsciously…
That death is but a synonym for a new beginning. Again, fall is both. In our minds, it seems to exist as two diametrically opposed things… simultaneously.
If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.
The Perennial Mystery
We all love a good mystery. We’re attracted—and compelled—to venerate things that lack easy answers. And fall certainly embodies that sense of irresolvable logic that will always fascinate our minds and enchant our souls.
Plus… you know, the weather and the leaves are really nice, too.
Matt Donahue is a Creative Director at Seed Strategy with a keen interest in product innovation and marketing theory. Matt is a graduate of Seton Hill University’s “Popular Fiction” master’s program and writes whenever he can.