Here in Delaware, we are lucky enough to be able to enjoy the most beautiful aspects of all four seasons: snowy ground each winter, cherry blossoms for spring, sunny beaches in the summer, and the changing leaves of fall.
In addition to the foliage and sweater weather, autumn has its own particular brand of nostalgia. (Plus, it’s the only season that goes by two names, so it must be special.) There seems to be something about it that triggers something sentimental and hopeful. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said in The Great Gatsby, “life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”It was coined in 1688, but the term nostalgia has come from ancient Greek. The first half, nóstos, means a return to home. The second half, álgos, means pain or grief. Now, nostalgia references not only a desire to return to a certain time and place, but to a prior emotional state. For a while in the 18th century, nostalgia was considered a malady along the lines of chronic melancholy, treated by leeches or hypnosis. Although we now know it’s certainly no disease, nostalgia still is something that is relevant in our culture today. On social media, trends like #throwbackthursday and Timehop are constantly reminding us of past fun and memories.
On social media, people also emphasize the particular memories associated with fall. Popular accounts with millions of followers tweet their “fall goals,” photos of pumpkin patches and movie nights and oversized cardigans. There are even entire Instagram accounts dedicated to a fall theme, with feeds full of orange and brown. Disney airs their annual selection of Halloween classics like Hocus Pocus and Halloweentown. There’s always those addictive Pillsbury sugar cookies with seasonal designs, a “leaves” scented candle from Bath and Body Works, a trip to the local apple orchard for a warm cider doughnut, haunted hayrides— the list goes on and on.
Of course, all the “basic” fall stuff is so popular for a reason. But, there’s something more to it than that. Lots of people talk about spring as a time of rebirth and new beginnings, but fall makes me more nostalgic than anything else. I think for me fall represents a lot of the qualities also associated with spring; it’s the start of something new, changes and chances. I think this is a result of being excited for the new school year to start each fall, a fresh beginning.
For me personally, I have found music to be one of the most effective ways to be transported back to a specific place and time. Listening to my playlist of all the songs that remind me of fall never fails to cheer me up; I love the memories associated with each one. Some of my favorite recommendations are “Open Season” by the High Highs and “1957” by Milo Greene.
Fall this time brings a special new kind of nostalgia as I look back at the last year, my first year as a college student. A lot of things have changed since this time last year, and I’m sure I will say the same thing another year from now. I’m sure I will look back on the past year as one of the most important in my life, and so as college students, it seems like a particularly important time to soak it all in. This season can be a great time for reflection on the past and anticipation for what’s to come in the future (especially when contemplated over a nice pumpkin latte). So, put on your coziest sweater, head over to your favorite Main St. coffeeshop, and soak it all in.