Every time I say that fall is my favorite season, I get the reply, “Me, too!” Apparently, if there were a season popularity contest, fall would come out on top. Now experts are exploring the reasons behind our strong pumpkin-time preference.
Dartmouth college sociology professor Kathryn Lively says it’s because when we’re children, we learn to associate fall with pleasant things. First, there’s the excitement of starting a new school year along with new clothes and supplies. We get to see the friends we haven’t seen all summer. Then there’s Halloween candy, pumpkin pie and playing in the leaves. So when we see the orange and russet beauty of the season as adults, we re-connect with all these happy memories.
Because of this, fall becomes a temporal landmark. Temporal landmarks are important times such as birthdays, holidays or seasons. A research paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2013 says that, just as physical landmarks help us structure our perception of space, temporal landmarks help us structure our perception of time by dividing it into “chunks” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
These temporal landmarks tend to motivate us to improve ourselves. One of the best examples of this is making New Year’s resolutions. Another example is that the crisp fall weather may inspire you to learn to make an apple pie from scratch. You may even go back to school as an adult. Taking advantage of temporal landmarks hearkens back to our early days in school when each new school year was a fresh start. Keeping possibilities for change and improvement open gives meaning to our lives.
Besides, fall is just plain fun. We have family holidays like Thanksgiving and Rosh Hashannah, and we have the silliness of Halloween. For sports fans, there’s football and the World Series. Fall is also cozy. Sweltering summer is gone; we embrace warm comfort foods like stew and get out the favorite sweaters and blankets. Not only that, but I think fall came out first in the latest presidential race poll.