Word of the moment: summer

Countries lying between the tropics and polar regions tend to have temperate climates with four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter.

Summer is a coming in

Loudly sing cuckoo

Groweth seed and bloweth mead and

Springs the wood a new

Sing cuckoo

These are the words of a popular 14th century English rhyme celebrating the summer season. Six centuries later Gerswin wrote:

And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high.

Summer is a seasonal word,  one most EF English Live students know but when talking with students about climate and seasons it is clear that  words like ‘hot’, ‘cold’, ‘winter’ and ‘summer’ have a slightly different meaning all around the world.

According to weather forecasters or meteorologists, summer starts at the beginning of June and ends at the end of August. During summer the days are longer and warmer.  This definition of summer is used in Austria, Denmark and parts of Russia and the UK. But many British people count parts of May as summer too, and in Ireland cultural traditions means that it stats on May 1st.   It also starts at the beginning of May in China.

In America summer starts on June 21st, the summer solstice, the shortest day of the year in the north and continues until the Autumn equinox  – when the sun is over the equator – or nearby Labour Day weekend in September.

Some people think that summer starts when the clocks go forward so that the evenings are longer.   However, even this happens at different times of the year in different countries.  For example this year the clocks went forward in the UK on April 1st, but on March 10th in America.

The summer holidays are usually the longest holidays in the school year.  Originally children were released from school in order to help with the harvests. Now summer is the time when children like to take advantage of the warm longer days to spend time out of doors playing.  That is unless you live in the tropics where heavy monsoon rain is the feature of the summer months or March, April and May.   Or if you live in the summer hemisphere, as their summer starts on the 1st of December and does not finish till the end of February.

Many EF English Live students come from Saudi Arabia where there are two main seasons: summer and winter. In summer temperatures are extra-ordinarily high, reaching the forties. There is virtually no rain and it is often nicer to do things in the cool of the evening or head for the cooled malls.

So although we all sort of know what summer is, actually explaining it can be a bit more complicated!

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