Because countries located around the earth receive different amounts of sunlight at different times of the year, in some places crops are grown, harvested, and celebrated in other seasons than just fall. In all cases, though, people give thanks for the food they have just gathered. Here are some harvest festivals still celebrated today in other countries just as they have been for years and years past.
• Japan has four festivals to celebrate the cycle of growing rice: a spring festival to celebrate planting the crop, a Lantern Festival in August to celebrate the ripening of the crop, a Moon Viewing festival in September to pray that the crop will be good, and a New Taste Festival in November to celebrate the harvesting of the crop.
• The Chinese also hold a festival for rice, called the Mid-Autumn Festival. During this time in late September, they celebrate the full moon and the rice crop they have just harvested.
• The Ashanti people of Ghana and the Yoruba people of Nigeria hold harvest festivals to celebrate their yam crops.
• In January, Hindus in India celebrate the end of one harvest season and the beginning of a period of rest before growing more crops with a festival called Pongal. They also hold a festival called Onam in August or September to celebrate harvesting crops at the end of the rainy season.
• Jewish people hold the festival of Shavuot in May or June to celebrate the times when their ancestors offered the first crops of a harvest to God. In autumn, they celebrate the festival of Sukkot to remember their ancestors’ search for a homeland and to celebrate the fruitful harvests their ancestors enjoyed once they found Canaan (modern Israel).
• In Britain, people still celebrate Harvest Festival in October as they have done for years. They decorate churches with fruit, vegetables, flowers, and wheat, and they bake special loaves of bread to look like sheaves of wheat. After a service thanking God, people donate a portion of the harvest to poor people in need. Similar harvest festivals are held in New Zealand and Australia in March, which is when crops in those places are harvested.
You can use this time of year to teach your child many things. I have put together four Fall Harvest Activities that I hope you enjoy.