Harvest Festival

 

Have you ever wondered why September feels like such a lovely fresh start. Why there is renewed energy just before the winter period and a feeling of gratitude, love and hope in the air?

I have and so I decided to do a little research.

Religion

Being a Christian the first thing that hit me was that September is the build up to the Harvest Festival, a tradition I always loved as a little girl, filled with community spirit, collection of all the crops and a celebration of thanks for all that we have received from the farmers this year.

Agriculture

Traditionally the Harvest festival celebration would occur once the very last crop had been counted in, with the whole community playing it's part, working late into the night to see the crops safe and dry, ready for winter months.  In the past, many moons ago, lives literally would have depended on the success of this harvest.

The Moon

Because we don't depend on the harvest in quite the same way nowadays we use the moon to guide us in our celebration of harvest, choosing the Sunday closest to the autumn full moon (The Harvest Moon), usually between 21-23 September.

Superstition

Pre-dating Christian rituals, the harvest was that of heightened superstition.  The life or death aspect to it, whether your family would survive through the tough winter months, made people believe that there was a spirit in the corn.  This spirit would be found in the last sheath of the harvest and would determine the health of next years crop.  The sheaths were made into corn dolls and kept on a banqueting table to bring good fortune.

Gratitude

The harvest has always been therefore, a natural time of thanks and gratitude, a time to take stock and be grateful for all that we have and to look forward to all that will come in the future months and years.

But it goes deeper.......

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish Festival that happens at this time of year (early September), symbolising a New Year, a fresh start and a time of forgiveness for any wrong doings from the year that has past.  A chance to look within, improve oneself and make better the next year as a better person out of the learnings that have past, asking God to repent and avoid repeating the same mistakes as from your past.

2018 is actually 5779!

And so it makes sense to me that although the Christian faith and the harvest bring about a sense of value to me in terms of gratitude and thanks to the farmers, the land and the lord-for all that we eat- a larger sense of something new, for me, comes from my ancient ancestry dating back far longer than my faith, 5779 years this year to be precise, to that of the Jews and celebrating a very happy new year.

Happy New Year (Shana Tova)

And with that information I wish all of my Jewish friends a Shana Tova - good year - and have really enjoyed researching why there might be such meaning for me in the changes between summer and Autumn (probably one of the most powerful for me over other all seasonal changes) and perhaps explain why our school academic calendar runs from September to the summer.  Is it dating back in time with the Jewish faith, or in line with the farming calendar, when agriculture would come to a halt and hands could be turned to school work over farming?  Do you know?

A research project for another day.........

Happy New Year......