A Question Of Seasons

3 March 2013

A couple of people from other parts of the world have commented that they like reading about Australia in my blog.  Well, while I was pondering what to write about, a subject arose from a conversation I’ve been having on Ravelry about the change of seasons.

I mentioned that it is now Autumn down here and was (politely) corrected – surely Autumn doesn’t start until the Equinox on about 20th March, which would be when Spring officially starts in the UK. 

That’s not the way it’s done here.  Autumn starts on 1st March, Winter on 1st June, Spring on 1st September and Summer on 1st December.  I’ve often wondered why.

Apparently (and I’m quoting from Wikipedia, which was the only source I could vaguely understand!), the earlier-starting meteorological seasons are customarily observed in the largely maritime mid-latitude climates of the Southern hemisphere. This is because of the shorter temperature lag from the shortest to the coldest day of the year over and near water which leads to an earlier arrival of spring weather.  The official status of the meteorological seasons in the southern hemisphere comes from the World Meteorological Organisation.  The astronomical seasons that are favored in many northern hemisphere countries because they are later starting derive their status from the International Astronomical Union.

So there you have it.  And it would appear that in neither case do these season dates have any legal standing – they are just custom and tradition.  




  1. Well, aren’t I better for knowing that? I was actually lying in bed this morning wondering when you change your clocks in Oz, so perhaps you could let me know so I’ll be fully appraised of all relevant facts!

  2. Wow! It has always puzzled me why the northern hemisphere countries started at the equinox not on the first of the month (a result of being born in the antipodes!) and now I know … I think!

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