The Fall Harvest around the World
The celebration of autumn is not only recognized in America around a Thanksgiving table, but many cultures and civilizations literally plan their entire year around the harvest season and the blessing of a bountiful crop. After all many today still depend on their fall harvest to sustain their families and communities until the following harvest the next year.
For instance Chusoek in the Korean culture is a major holiday that lasts for three days and is celebrated during the 8th month on the 15th day of the lunar calendar which is around the Autumn Equinox. The festival dates back several hundred years (as early as 57 B.C.). This fall harvest time of celebration is recognized by Koreans visiting their ancestral hometowns and family while feasting on Korean food from the harvest and playing folk games.
Similar festivals are recognized all over the world in many cultures and areas where family and friends gather together and celebrate food, prosperity and culture.
Examples of Fall Harvest Festivals in cultures around the world
Crop over: Barbados
Niiname-sai, Shinjo-sai: Japan
Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia: Argentina
Erntedank: Germany & Austria
Mehregan: Iran, Ancient Persia
Mid-Autumn Festival: China, Vietnam
Sukkot: Jewish harvest festival lasting eight days in the fall, in which time is spent in tabernacles or booths
The Autumnal Harvest in America
Harvest festivals in America typically begin in late September and last through late October. Contrary to some beliefs, harvest is celebrated earlier than Thanksgiving. Fall festivals are hosted all across America when the cool crisp air of fall is felt and the leaves begin to change across the deciduous trees. These relatively comfortable days make ideal weather for several outdoor activities.
Pumpkin festivals attract visitors from all around to celebrate autumn. These festivals are usually held in rural areas and offer entertainment such as bluegrass music, pie eating contests, rodeos and many other attractions. These types of old fashioned country festivals will usually last for days or even weeks at a time. Many participants in fall festivals often sell crafts and display works of country crafted art which are very unique and collectable.
Fall festivals are often a theme for Christian worship in the fall season as country churches host revivals, homecomings, dinners and gospel music outdoors under tents and picnic shelters. Usually games will be present for children and other entertaining activities such as face painting and cake walks. In recent years many Christian churches have opted for an autumn harvest celebration in place of Halloween because of religious viewpoints of the holiday.
Arts and craft shows, parades, music, chili and even road kill cook offs make up many themes across America. One of the highlights of the autumn harvest is the vibrant and colorful display shown from the trees and fields in rural areas. Many festivals are hosted which simply celebrate the fall foliage displays throughout the forests and countryside.
Thanksgiving which comes later in the season (forth Thursday in November) has been celebrated since the pilgrim days when Indians and settlers gathered together to give thanks for the harvest they had been given. The harvest time in these days were critical to the survival of the colonies of settlers who had to endure harsh winters with little food. Thanksgiving is typically viewed as a time of family gathering (where harvest festivals involve friends and family) when many travel across the country to visit relatives and give thanks for the love and health of Fathers, Mothers, and Children. The traditional dinner for Thanksgiving is a large turkey and/or ham with sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing and many other traditional dishes that vary from region to region and family to family.
The harvest festivals are a prelude to the Christmas season which follows. The day after Thanksgiving is considered to be the busiest shopping day in all of America and is the basis in which many judge the prosperity of the country’s consumer spending economics.
Harvest festivals are an integral part of society all around the world. The festivals have certainly changed over time for certain societies; from a time of gratitude and thanks for a harvest of food, to a time of feasting, family and celebration in prosperous cultures.