|Autumn in the Sandwell Valley|
As a child I loved harvest festivals, in fact I still do. But in those dim and distant days I lived on a farm in the country and there seemed to be a warmth to the harvest celebrations even though they marked the end of summer and the beginning of what could often be a long, hard and very cold winter in bleak Derbyshire.
I enjoyed this morning's church service on what is now known as Harvest Sunday; a time to give thanks to God for the provisions He has given us. I particularly enjoyed the rousing chorus of We plough the fields and scatter. But now I live in an urban community; I looked round at the produce brought in - largely tins from the supermarket. It is so different from the days of my youth and even life today in rural communities where churches have actual produce from gardens and fields in abundance.
My grandfather and father were farmers and I remember my father's words, look after the land and the land will look after you!
A harvest festival is an annual celebration at the time of the main harvest in any given area. Because of the differences in climate and crops the times will differ around the world. Common factors are feasting with the foods that have come from the crops midst celebrations of thanksgiving with music, prayer and traditions.
In Britain harvest derives from the Anglo-Saxon 'harvest' or autumn. It later became known as the time for reaping and gathering grain and other home-grown produce. In by-gone days the Festival was celebrated at the beginning of the harvest Season on August 1st; it was called Lammas meaning 'loaf Mass'. Farmers made loaves of bread from the fresh wheat crop and gave them to their local church for the Communion bread during a special service thanking God for the harvest.
By the 16th century things had changed and traditions became set around the gathering of the final harvest. These included a procession of reapers accompanying a fully-laden cart; a widespread distribution of a special cake to the celebrating farmworkers; a corn dolly being made from the last sheaf of corn harvested; the horse bringing in the last cart load being decorated with flowers and ribbons; the harvest feast or supper being held at the farmer's house.
Early English settlers took the idea of harvest thanksgiving to North America; the most famous one being held by the Pilgrims in 1621.
Just a little info on harvesting to brighten your week!
Thought for the week: A man reaps what he sows. (Galatians 6v7)
Love to you all, Lady M xxx
Sofia and Donald xxxxxxx