Let’s Read about Afternoons First
The afternoon is that time of the day, which falls between noon and evening. It is when the sun descends from its peak in the sky to almost before the time it terminates in the west towards the horizon. In our lives, afternoons take up around the latter half of our typical school day and work. If we look at it in the literal sense, it is the time right afternoon. If you want an equivalent of our afternoon on any other planet, it would be the time when the planet’s principal sat would be descending from the prime meridian, when seen from the surface of the earth. In a metaphorical sense, the word ‘afternoon’ is used for a comparatively late period of time or in someone’s life.
The Terminology of Afternoon
Most often, we define afternoon as the time span between noon and evening. If we adopt this definition, the particular range of time will differ in a direction. There is no standard definition for the time period between afternoon and evening, but noon is described as a fixed 12 pm. Interestingly, before a transition period from the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, 3 pm was the constant time for noon. The possible explanations for this include shifting times of midday meals and prayers, by which one aspect of noon got defined. Hence, the afternoon was used for referring to a narrower time frame. It was around 1300 when the word ‘afternoon’ got attested. It was obviously derived from ‘after’ and ‘noon’.
During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, ‘at afternoon’ was the standard phrasing that moved to ‘in the afternoon’ after that. In Midland American English and Southern U.S., the word ‘evening’ was sometimes used for encompassing all the times that come between noon and the night. The Irish language has four different words for marking time intervals starting from late afternoon to nightfall. This time period is considered to be mystical.
Events of the Afternoon
The afternoon is that time of the day when the sun descends from its daytime peak. In the afternoon, we see the sun moving from almost the sky’s centre deep into the west. During the late afternoon, the sunlight is particularly glaring and bright. It is because, during this time, the sun moves at a lower angle in the sky. Most industrialized nations have adopted the morning to evening or late afternoon as the standard working time. Archetypically, this time is from 9 in the morning to 5 in the evening. Hence, the latter portion of this time happens during the afternoon. Even schools generally let out in the afternoon.
Let’s Talk about Evenings Now
The evening is that time of the day when the afternoon ends and the night begins. The precise timings at which the evening starts and ends depending on the time of year, culture, and most importantly, the location. However, it is usually considered to start when the sun moves lower in the sky and lasts until the twilight end. The word ‘evening’ comes from ǣfnung, an Old English word which means ‘the coming of evening, sunset, time around sunset’. It actually originates from ‘æfnian’, which means ‘become evening, grow toward evening’. The usage of evening dates can be traced back to the mid-fifteenth century. (See When Were The Medieval Times?)
So, When Exactly does Afternoon End?
We all know that afternoon is that time of the day, which begins mid-day and ends when the evening starts. When you have an afternoon appointment, it would probably be between 12:00 to 5:00 pm. The most agreed-upon timing for the beginning of the afternoon is 12:00 pm, but the exact time it ends and evens starts is a little vague. Generally, people accept the afternoon to last from 12:00:01 to 18:00 hours; only then is it an evening. Let’s not forget there are also terms like ‘early evening’ and ‘late evening’.
We must also keep in mind that the light we see around an hour or so right before sunrise, whereas dusk is the light we see an hour or so after the sunset. If we look at it technically, the afternoon is basically any time afternoon. Hence, any time after 12 noon falls under the afternoon. The term is just a convenient way of denoting time which we usually regard as between noon and evening. Usually, around three hours before the sunsets are regarded as ‘evening’, it depends on a particular region’s latitude.