Harvest Festivals

Harvest Festivals

1. Australia Apple and Grape Harvest :
Dating back to 1954, this Stanthorpe festival (known then as the Back to Stanthorpe Week) lasts three days in March and is host to approximately 60,000 to 80,000 people. Some of the festivities include Seasonal Harvest Tours & Harvest Feasts where people can enjoy local cheeses and wines, a gala ball, a street parade, and even a celebrity grape crush.

2. United States :
The First Thanksgiving between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans occurred in 1621 in Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts, but it wasnt until 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln declared that this national holiday was to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. While most recognize the Plymouth Thanksgiving as the first, Florida, Texas, and Virginia dispute this claim saying their settlers gave thanks for arriving in these new colonies first. Nowadays, families gather together for dinner and give thanks for all they have and watch the Macys Day Parade in New York City, and the NFL Thanksgiving games.

3. Philippines Flores de Mayo :
Spanish for Flowers of May, Flores de Mayo takes place throughout the entire month of May as the people of the Philippines honor the Virgin Mary by offering her flowers. The highlight of the whole festival is the parade called the Santa Cruzan where young women dress in extravagant outfits representing historical and biblical figures.

4. Malaysia Kaamatan :
Taking place at the end of May, this Harvest Festival has six stages, or ceremonies (Kumogos, Kumotob, Posisip, Poihib, Magayau, and Humabot). During these stages a ritual specialist will pick out and tie-up seven stalks of the best rice and scatter them all over the rice field letting the spirits know not to disturb the harvest. Then she will place more stalks in a basket, go into a rice hut with the basket and recite chants to tell the spirit Bambarayon to stay in the rice hut until the next harvest. Next, she empties the rice into the basket and recites more chants for the spirits to keep watch over the rice. And finally, during the last stage, there are tons of activities, lots of entertainment, and the Harvest Festival Queen is chosen.

5. England Harvest Festival :
Englands Harvest festival, which is celebrated every year in schools, chapels and churches, was only started in 1843. It is said the first modern Harvest Festival was started by Vicar Robert Stephen Hawker by inviting all his congregants to gather together to receive the bread of the new corn. This drew in many people who found their church had been decorated with flowers and fruit. Nowadays the church is still decorated as such, just not as extravagant. The night before, a dinner is held with all the congregants bringing homemade dishes to share. The festivals date is set far in advance instead of waiting for the last harvest because now they have the use of machinery instead of manual labor.

6. Georgia Rtveli :
In Georgia, this still-practiced, ancient holiday usually falls in late September in the east and mid-October in the west. Usually lasting for several days, the people celebrate Rtveli by starting their work very early in the morning harvesting their crops, then ending their day with a feast while listening to folk music.

7. China Mid Autumn Festival :
The Chinese have been celebrating their harvests since the Shang Dynasty over 3,000 years ago. However, the Mid-Autumn Festival didnt really gain popularity until the Tang Dynasty nearly 2,200 years later. Nowadays people use this holiday as a way to reunite with friends, hang paper lanterns, and enjoy delicious mooncakes while watching the moon.

8. Barbados Crop Over Festival :
Back in the 1780s Barbados was the worlds leader in sugar. Every year they would hold a celebration signifying the end of another successful harvest, the Crop Over Festival. Once the sugar industry in Barbados declined, so did the festival, and in 1940 it was shut down completely. However in 1974, it was revived, adding more aspects from their culture to become the enormous festival they know today.

9. Zambia N cwala :
Every February, the Ngoni people of Zambia celebrate the first harvest of the year and the entrance of their people into Zambia in 1835. Twelve local chiefs travel to Mutenguleni Village with their best dancers, wearing outfits and headdresses made from animal furs, to perform a warrior dance for the chief. After watching and even dancing himself, the chief chooses the best group of dancers. He then drinks the blood of a cow as a symbol for the first harvest food, and to give his people his blessing to start harvesting and eating.

10. India Holi :
Another one of the ancient festivals on our list, Holi dates back to the fourth century. Usually occurring in March, celebrations start with a bonfire the night before where people dance and sing. Then, the next morning is when all the fun mayhem begins. This, the Carnival of Colors, is for what Holi is most known. A giant free-for-all where everyone tries to color everyone else with powders and colored water. Squirt guns and water balloons are the preferred weapons of choice. It doesnt matter who or what you are, rich or poor, young or old, friend or enemy, everyone is fair game. After the craziness, in the evening, everyone settles down, cleans off, dresses up and visits family enjoying delicious meals. Now this just seems like some good clean (relatively speaking) fun.

11. Japan Labor Thanksgiving Day :
This holiday dates all the way back to the time of Emperor Jimmu who reigned from 660-585 BCE. In 1948, after World War II, the modern version was established and now takes place annually on November 23. As this is a holiday that commemorates labor and production and giving each other thanks, often times, grade school students draw pictures for the holiday and give them to local police stations as gifts.

12. Germany Erntedankfest :
Often celebrated on the first Sunday in October, Erntedankfest literally means harvest festival of thanks but unlike the Thanksgivings in the US and Canada, its more of a religious holiday than one spent around a table. A typical day starts around 10 am with a church service, a parade at 2 pm, music, dancing and food in and around the church at 3 pm, followed by an evening service at 6 pm then a lantern and torch parade with fireworks with the evening winding down around 7 pm.