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Cette semaine (this week) the weather in Paris has been surprisingly good. Le chaleur (the heat) surprised many people and un collègue (a coworker) in turn surprised me with un nouveau mot (a new word) for the nice weather!
Alors (so), when mon collègue said that it was un été indien (an Indian Summer) she was surprised to learn that I wasn’t familiar with le terme (the word, the term), puisque (since) it originally comes from l’anglais (English).
Le terme does in fact come from l’Amérique du Nord (North America) and the use of indien refers to Native Americans and not people from l’Inde (India).
L’origine (the origin) of le mot is largely unknown, but it could refer to the time when Native Americans would begin to prepare for l’hiver (Winter). Le terme is thought to have spread from la Pennsylvanie north to la nouvelle Angleterre (New England) and onward to le Canada during the colonial period of the 17th and 18th centuries.
En passant (incidentally), au Québec they use a slightly different mot than en France: L’été des indiens.
Alors pourquoi dit-on « un été Indien » en France ?
So why do people say “un été indien” in France?
The last period of warm weather before le froid d’hiver (the cold of Winter) is traditionally known as l’été de la Saint-Martin (the Summer of Saint Martin) en France. La Saint-Martin is a holiday on le 11 novembre (November 11th), une date (a date) that is close to the last breath of warm weather.
“L’été indien“ came from a popular 1975 chanson (song) by un chanteur français originaire des États-Unis (a French singer originally from the United States), Joe Dassin. Les paroles (the lyrics) make it clear that le terme comes from l’Amérique du nord:
“It was autumn, an autumn with good weather
A season that only exists in the North of America
Over there we call it the Indian Summer”