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Spanish Vocabulary for the Autumn Season

Today's lesson will take us through some Spanish vocabulary that might come in handy to talk about el otoño (the autumn/fall) and some of the phenomena associated with esta estación (this season). 

 

El tiempo (The Weather)

Let's start by taking a look at a quote from our Yabla Spanish library about el tiempo in autumn, which means  "the weather" (rather than "the time") in this context:

 

Pero en primavera y en otoño, el tiempo es mucho mejor

But in spring and in fall, the weather is much better

Captions 16-17, Clara explica El tiempo - Part 1

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The fall season is typically characterized by more moderate temperaturas (temperatures) as well as viento (wind) and sometimes lluvia (rain) or niebla (fog) (although there might be some sol (sun) as well!). Let's look at these autumn weather words in context:

 

Pasame las llaves y llamá un taxi ante' que venga la lluvia.

Give me the keys and call a cab before the rain comes. 

Caption 51, Yago 5 La ciudad - Part 9

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Ya está haciendo un poco de viento; ¿no te parece que hace frío? Sí, a pesar de que hace un hermoso sol.

It's a bit windy now; doesn't it seem like it's cold to you? Yes, in spite of the fact that it's beautifully sunny.

Captions 78-79, Sofy y Caro Entrevistar para un trabajo

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Ten cuidado cuando conduzcas hoy porque hay mucha niebla y no se puede ver bien.

Be careful when you drive today because there's a lot of fog, and you can't see well.

Captions 17-18, Clara explica El tiempo - Part 2

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The videos Clara explica el tiempo - Part 1 and Clara explica el tiempo- Part 2  (Clara Explains the Weather- Parts 1 and 2) as well as Aprendiendo con Karen- El tiempo (Learning with Karen- The Weather) can help you learn even more ways to talk about the weather in Spanish

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¿Cuándo es el otoño? (When Is Autumn?)

While some Spanish-speaking countries like Colombia and Ecuador have less climatic variation due to their proximity to the equator, others experience the autumn season in different months than North America. For example, fall in countries like Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, etc. takes place from approximately marzo a junio (March to June), while Spain experiences the fall in the same months as in the United States: septiembre a diciembre (September through December), as demonstrated in this video about the months and seasons in Spanish by El Aula Azul:

 

En septiembre, empieza el otoño. En octubre, caen las hojas.

In September, the fall begins. In October, the leaves fall.

Captions 22-23, El Aula Azul Estaciones y Meses

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And that brings us to las hojas (the leaves), which, along with their tendency to change colors, dry up, and fall off trees in the autumn, are arguably the most frequently-employed symbol of the fall season.

 

Símbolos del otoño (Symbols of Fall)

What other objects are associated with the fall? Let's take a look at a few: 

 

¡Soy un espantapájaros!

I'm a scarecrow!

Caption 95, 75 minutos Gangas para ricos - Part 15

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¿Cuánto puede costar una cesta así en el mercado?

How much can a basket like this cost at the market?

Caption 121, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 11

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¿Adivináis qué animal come esta paja y este heno?

Can you guess what animal eats this straw and this hay?

Caption 6, Amaya Donkey Dreamland

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Ahora, vamos con nuestro siguiente diseño de calabaza

Now, we go on to our next pumpkin design.

Caption 64, Manos a la obra Papel picado para Día de muertos

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Of course, while the calabaza (pumpkin) is a decorative symbol of the autumn season, it is also a fall food that can be made into delectable desserts, stews, and even espresso beverages... which brings us to our next category!

 

Comidas de otoño (Fall Food)

What other foods do we associate with the autumn season?

 

Es época de quinoa, de la cosecha, de las arvejas tiernas, del maíz, que también ya acabamos de cosechar

It's the season for quinoathe harvest, sweet peas, corn, which we also just finished harvesting.

Captions 27-28, Otavalo Proyecto familiar Kawsaymi - Part 2

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Si hay un olor típico en el otoño es el de las castañas asadas.

If there is a typical smell in autumn, it's that of the roasted chestnuts.

Caption 24, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 1

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Las manzanas puedes hacer dulce de manzana, pie de manzana, torta de manzana, 

[With] apples you can make apple jam, apple pie, apple cake,

Caption 19, Otavalo Conozcamos el Mundo de las Frutas con Julia

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And speaking of apples, they can also be used to make sidra (cider) of both the alcoholic and non-alchoholic variety:

 

y la bebida más típica es la sidra de manzana.

and the most typical drink is hard apple cider.

Caption 57, Viajando con Fermín La Feria de Santo Tomás

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In this video, Fermín tells us in this about the Feria de Santo Tomás (Saint Tomas Fair), which takes place on the last day of autumn, December 21st, and is thought to be the first day of the Christmas season. 

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Fiestas de otoño (Fall Holidays)

To continue on the theme of fiestas (holidays), let's talk about the Spanish terms for some fall celebrations in both the United States and Latin America:

 

Y en el interior le decimos, eh... Día de Muertos. Eh... Quizás tenga un poco de relación en la fecha con el Halloween de Estados Unidos,

And in [places] inside the country we call it, um... Day of the Dead. Um... Perhaps it's a little bit related with the United States's Halloween in respect to date,

Captions 69-70, Yabla en Yucatán Don Salo - Part 2

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And, in addition to Halloween and the Day of the Dead, we have, in November, the important North American holiday of Thanksgiving, which is called el Día de Acción de Gracias in Spanish. 

 

Autumn Vocabulary in Review

Let's conclude today's lesson with a quick-reference review of the words we have learned:

 

el otoño (the autumn/fall)

la estación (the season)

el tiempo (the weather)

la temperatura (the temperture)

la lluvia (the rain)

el viento (the wind)

la niebla (the fog)

el sol (the sun)

hacer sol (to be sunny)

hacer viento (to be windy)

hacer frío (to be cold)

marzo (March)

abril (April)

mayo (May)

junio (June)

septiembre (September)

octubre (October)

noviembre (November)

diciembre (December)

las hojas (the leaves)

el espantapájaros (the scarecrow)

la cesta (the basket)

la paja (the straw)

el heno (the hay)

la calabaza (the pumpkin)

la quinoa (the quinoa)

la cosecha (the harvest)

cosechar (to harvest)

el maíz (the corn)

las castañas asadas (the roasted chestnuts)

la manzana (the apple)

la fiesta (the holiday)

el Día de Muertos/el Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead)

el Día de Acción de Gracias (Thanksgiving)

 

And that brings us to the end of our lesson on useful Spanish vocabulary for the autumn season. We hope you've enjoyed it, and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments.

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A Note on Día de Muertos

In recent years, the Mexican celebration known as Día de muertos (Day of the Dead) has gained considerable popularity. The recent release of Coco, a Pixar animated movie inspired by this tradition that has been heavily marketed for Thanksgiving 2017, will likely consolidate the place of this holiday in the mainstream for many years to come.
 

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Día de muertos is mostly aimed at honoring and remembering friends and family members who have died. In Mexico, Día de Muertos  — largely celebrated Nov. 1 and 2 — is a syncretic holiday that goes back thousands of years to some pre-Hispanic civilizations including the Olmec, Zapotec, and Maya, but that is also intertwined with Catholic traditions brought in during the Conquest. For this reason, the celebration has both religious and cultural tones, and many regional variants only inside the Mexican territory! For example, people from the state of Michoacan call this celebration Animecha Kejtzitaka (the night of the dead) following indigenous Purepecha traditions, while Mayan people in Yucatan call it Janal Pixan (the food of the dead), a communal festival that lasts several days.
 
Don Salo, an artisan from Yucatan, talks to us about Janal Pixan:

 

Aquí se le llama Janal Pixan.

Here it's called Janal Pixan.

En maya es "comida para difuntos".

In Mayan means "food for the deceased."

Captions 67-68, Yabla en Yucatán - Don Salo

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He even mentions Xibalba, the name of the underworld in K'iche' Maya mythology:
 

...y sucumbía en esta vida, para pasar al Xibalba,

...and succumbed in this life, to go on to the Xibalba,

al inframundo.

to the underworld.

Caption 28, Yabla en Yucatán - Don Salo

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Nowadays the Día de muertos celebration in Mexico is still deeply rooted in religious practices, but it has also evolved into an important secular holiday, with distinctive elements and practices that are shared across the whole country and some US southern regions at least since the year 1900. One of these elements is el altar de muertos or la ofrenda de muertos (the offering to the dead), which is set up to honor the memory of a deceased person. Some of the most common elements that you will find in a Mexican altar de muertos are: papel picado (decorative pierced paper), marigolds, sugar skulls, candles, pan de muerto (bread of the dead), salt, water, and traditional food.

Our friend Meli shares a very contemporary take on Día de muertos while showing us how to make papel picado:
 

El papel picado es un producto artesanal, ornamental de papel.

"Papel picado" is a handmade, decorative paper product.

Caption 52, Manos a la obra - Papel picado para Día de muertos

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Meli is also aware that different people in Mexico have different Día de muertos traditions, an important thing a language learner interested in this cultural celebration must remember:

 

En algunos lugares de México,

In some places in Mexico,

las personas pasan parte de la noche en el panteón.

people spend part of the night at the cemetery.

Captions 60-61, Manos a la obra - Papel picado para Día de muertos

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By the way, the words panteón (from Greek pantheon), cementerio, and camposanto all mean "cemetery" and they are all very common in Mexico. Many other words like tumba (tomb), sepultura (entombment), enterramiento (burial), etc. are also used to talk about the death... and joke about it. One such expression is levantar al muerto (to raise the dead) which literally means "to resuscitate" but it's also commonly used to refer to hangovers:
 

Unos buenos chilaquiles

Some good chilaquiles

levantan al muerto más muerto.

raise the deadest of the dead (cure the worst hangover).

Caption 23, Tatiana y su cocina - Chilaquiles

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Keep in mind that, even though the Mexican Día de muertos is the most well-known rendition of this holiday, this celebration is also important in many other Spanish speaking countries, each with its own particularities. Our friend Julia, for example, tells us that in Ecuador people customarily drink colada de mora (blackberry smoothie) for Día de muertos:
 

...y que en Ecuador y en otros países se la toma

...and that in Ecuador and in other countries is consumed

el dos de noviembre de todos los años, el Día de los Muertos.

on November second every year, the Day of the Dead.

Captions 52-53, Otavalo - Conozcamos el Mundo de las Frutas con Julia

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Have you witnessed a Día de muertos celebration while traveling in a Spanish speaking country? Share your stories with us on twitter @yabla and send your topic suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.

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