Food & Drink

What are traditional harvest times

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harvest festival drawing
Harvest times have a storied history around the world
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History of traditional harvest times, festivals and gatherings

Back in the day, and I mean way back in the day, harvest times were literally a matter of life or death. Not getting the harvest in on time and stored properly before the onset of winter meant starvation, plain and simple. Entire communities would perish, not to mention have nothing to sell or barter with to secure other necessities of living, pre-iPad and Playstation 19 that is.

With so much riding on a successful harvest, it seemed natural that harvests brought entire communities together. If you’d finished reaping and sowing your own back 40, you jumped over to the neighboring plot, without hesitation, and helped your neighbor. Some would say, at least as far as having a sense of community and “helping thy neighbor,” that those were the good old days.


Though harvest can and does refer to other activities such as bringing down timber or hauling in fish, it’s most commonly used when referring to crops. Grains, produce and other yields are the basis for harvest times that have and are consistently celebrated the world over.

Traditional Harvest Times

Though harvest times and the celebrations they inspire are unique in some respects based on geography, local religions and the crops of the region they share a number of common attributes. Usually centered around a feast of some sort, for hundreds and even thousands of years this has been an opportunity to share the fruits of a year-long worth of labors with friends and family.

In the West, harvest times historically have coincided with the Harvest Moon which usually occurs in late September or early October. Other cultures however celebrate, or celebrated, harvest in the Spring or early Summer.

Thanksgiving is considered by some to be a harvest festival, particularly because the celebration is centered on an extravagant feast in the Fall with family and friends. For Americans though, Thanksgiving involves a great deal more than celebrating the bringing in of a successful harvest. Our foray into the New World, meeting and co-existing with Native Americans and the promise  of building a new country have their roots in Thanksgiving. Perhaps Thanksgiving is best viewed as both a celebration of the harvest and the promise of things to come.

Famous Harvest Celebrations

Harvest times and celebrations go as far back as the early Egyptian and Roman cultures. In Egypt, harvest festivities were conducted in the Spring in honor of the god of fertility and vegetation, Min. For the Romans, it was the Goddess of corn, Ceres, who was the object of their Fall harvest gatherings.

While its roots trace back thousands of years, the Succoth continues today and is a traditional Jewish Holiday that lasts for a week during September and October. This is a chance for families to gather and share feasts each year, which is why it is sometimes referred to as the Jewish Harvest Festival.

In England, harvest festivals go back to the days of Pagans and continue today with a strong Christian undercurrent. Harvest times are celebrated with meals and the giving of thanks in villages and churches across the country.

Most any celebration that brings together family and friends to share and give thanks is bound to be time well spent. But when it revolves around acres and acres of food? Well, that places harvest times and festivals securely near the top of any Holiday list.

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