Harvest Festivals


This is the time of the year when harvest festivals really get going. The available evidence indicates that all human societies develop some sort of religious beliefs. When humans first began to practice agriculture and the tribe was now dependent on the “fruits” of its labors, it was natural for people to gather and give thanks. Mind you, I suspect one of the attractive aspects of these festivals was that after a long, hard summer in the fields, the farmer finally had a chance to sit down and drink beer.

The end of summer and first part of fall is a frenzy of picking, canning, freezing and fermenting. Dinner during that period is quite likely to be a sandwich, as the resident cook can’t stand the thought of more food. But since I was cleaning up the garden yesterday in advance of an expected cold night, we had our harvest supper last night. Rib-eye steak from home-grown beef; sliced Crystal Apple cucumbers and California Wonder red bell peppers; a snap bean medley that included Kentucky Wonder, Gold Marie Romano, Blauhilde (purple pole bean) Fortex, Monte Gusto and Rattlesnake; boiled Yukon Gold potatoes with lots of butter, and summer squash (Black Zucchini, Bennings Green Tint patty-pan, Cocozelle and Early Prolific Straightneck) roasted in olive oil with Silverneck garlic, Yellow Globe onions, Roma and an unnamed red tomato I got from somewhere I don’t recall.

While Thanksgiving is the classic harvest festival in the US, ancient pagans (as well as modern-day pagans and Wiccans) were more likely to celebrate harvest festivals at the autumn equinox. The Harvest Moon – the full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox on September 22 or 23 – was usually designated as a day of celebration, feasting and prayer. In some areas, the harvest festivals also brought the tax collectors out. Makes sense, if taxes were in the form of grain, produce, livestock and other agricultural bounty, to collect at the time when the storehouses were full.
There’s a lot to be said for taking time to say thanks for the bounty of the natural world which supplies us with what we need to survive. If you grow your own, you know that it’s not an easy task. Harvest festivals help us maintain the connection with the land that nourishes us – I hope you’re celebrating one.

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1 Response to Harvest Festivals

  1. littleleftie says:

    Thanksgiving in Canada in mid-October coincides with the abundance of pumpkins, squash, apples and late season root crops that make for such a wonderful harvest supper.
    We have a tradition of carving pumpkins that day, in the afternoon, as a way of celebrating the harvest. Of course, they are usually rotten by Hallowe’en, lol, although we’ve been lucky some years and have squeaked out one or two that have lasted….
    I have an abundance of Gem squash this year (a South African mild squash). We’ve had heavy frost since late August 2-4 nights/week so most of the garden crop has long been harvested.

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