Intro: The harvest season falls at different times of the year depending upon region, climate, and crop, but festivals celebrating its arrival are held the world over. A sneak peak…
Rice Harvest Festival (May 1–June 30)
The Rice Harvest Festival that is held in Bali, Indonesia, is a feature of the island’s Hindu culture. The harvest time follows the New Year—when ceremonies are held to purge evil spirits from the land—by about one month.
The harvest festival is dedicated to the rice goddess and is a time of joyous celebration. Effigies of the goddess are placed in the fields in thanks, towns are decorated with colored flags, and special bull races, among other festivities, are held.
Mid-Autumn Festival (September–October)
One of the most-important traditional holidays in China, Taiwan, and Vietnam is the celebration of the harvest. It is also known as the Moon Festival because it coincides with the full moon on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month; special delicacies called “mooncakes” are prepared during this time. Ceremonies are held both to give thanks for the harvest and to encourage the harvest-giving light to return again in the coming year. It is a time of family gatherings, matchmaking, and public celebrations.
Yam Festival (August or September)
The Ewe people of Ghana celebrate the end of the rainy season and the first appearance of yams, a staple crop. The duration and exact days of the celebration vary according to place, but, regardless of the manifestation, the festival is held in hopes of averting famine in the coming year.
Huge feasts and activities such as dances and parades are held. Similar festivals are held in Papua New Guinea and Nigeria.
Sukkot, the “Feast of Booths,” is held on the 15th day of Tishri in the Jewish lunisolar calendar. Following shortly after the High Holy Days of the New Year celebration, the eight-day festival gives thanks to God for the harvest.
Special booths, or huts, are constructed to recall the period of the Exodus, recounted in the Hebrew Scriptures, when the Israelites lived in huts in the desert before entering the Promised Land.
The first Canadian Thanksgiving holiday was celebrated by Canadian settlers in 1578, when explorer Martin Frobisher gave thanks for a safe journey to Newfoundland and Labrador. This actually predated the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving holiday by 43 years! Thanksgiving in Canada is now held on the second Monday in October.
Canadian Thanksgiving is held earlier than its American equivalent because Canada, being farther north, has an earlier harvest season.
Thanksgiving feasts are similar to food served in the United States, as are many of the accompanying traditions.
Celebration of Bread
The English harvest festival, Lammas, was originally celebrated at the beginning of the harvest season. Also known as the Celebration of Bread, farmers made bread for Communion from new wheat to give thanks for the harvest. Churches were decorated with vegetables, fruits, and flowers in intricate designs. The end of the harvest was celebrated with a big meal known as the Harvest Supper.
Although the custom ended when Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church, it was revived in 1843 by a vicar in Cornwall, England. Today it is celebrated at the end of the harvest season, and a Harvest Supper is held the night before. Flowers, fruits and vegetables still dominate church displays.
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