A harvest festival is a celebration that takes place around the time of the harvest. During this ceremony, people celebrate the food that they grow on their land. The harvest festival is not only a worldwide celebration and thanksgiving for a successful harvest but also a festival that is very ancient. The times and places that harvest festivals occur vary around the world due to the variations in the climatic conditions and the difference in crops grown worldwide.
Harvest Festivals Around the World
Harvest Celebrations in Britain
The celebration of the harvest festivals in Britain have been around since the period of pagans. Initially, the word harvest had the meaning of “autumn” in the country, but it later turned to mean a reaping and grain gathering season. The day of harvest festival in Britain is a Sunday that is close to, or that coincides with, the Harvest Moon on September every year. Prayers, songs, and church decorations with food and fruit baskets accompany these celebrations. Moreover, some other names of harvest festivals in Britain are the Harvest Thanksgiving and the Harvest Home.
The harvest festivals during the early times in Britain used to take place at the commencement of the harvest season on August 1. The festivals comprised of the Latin prayer for consecrating wheat bread that was given in the Durham Ritual. The bread served as the Communion bread that was given to show gratitude to God for the successful harvest.
Firm establishments of various customs surrounding the gathering of the final harvest in Britain took place by the sixteenth century. One of these customs was the extravagant dressing by reapers who act as the ‘lord’ of the harvest who wanted money from bystanders. The other traditions were the “Hooky, hooky” shout and a laden cart that the reapers accompany.
North American Harvest Festivals
Both the US and Canada celebrate the harvest through a holiday known as Thanksgiving. Since 1941, American Thanksgiving has been held annually on the fourth Thursday of November. Americans use Thanksgiving to give thanks for the blessing of the year. In Canada, Thanksgiving has been celebrated annually on the second Monday of October since 1957. Canadians give thanks for a fruitful harvest. The harvest festival day in the US and Canada serves as the national secular holiday having religious customs.
Harvest Celebrations in Asia
In Asia, the celebration of the harvest festival includes the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is one of the famous harvest festivals worldwide. The time for harvest in Iran is called "Mehrgan," which was accompanied by a festival that involved extravagant celebration at Persepolis alongside tax collection. The celebration was lively because the king received gifts from several visitors who came from different regions of the Persian Empire.
Finally, in India, there are various important harvest festivals, some of them in January, February-March, April, and August-September. Some of the important harvest festivals in January include Thai Pongal, Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Bhogali Bihu, and Uttarayana. The celebrations in February-March and April are Holi and Vaisakhi respectively, while that in August-September is Onam.