Early Years Calendar: Harvest Festival
3rd-31st October 2021
Harvest Festival is a traditional celebration, stemming all the way from pagan times. It is an annual event to mark the time of the main harvest. Because this varies from country to country, harvest festivals can happen at any time of the year. In the UK, it is traditionally held on the Sunday near (or of) the Harvest Moon; the full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox on 22nd or 23rd September.
The Harvest Festival is often celebrated in churches and schools in the UK. Other harvest festivals include the Mid-Autumn Festival in China, and the Jewish week-long harvest festival of Sukkot in the autumn.
In the UK, harvest festival used to be celebrated by having a feast with some of the produce of the year’s harvest. However, nowadays we tend to get our food from supermarkets year-round, rather than relying on seasonal produce. Because of this many Harvest Festival celebrations, often in churches, have decided to emphasise the importance of concern for people in developing countries. Using Harvest as a time to reflect on the fact that some people do not have the means to grow enough crops for themselves or their families, and focusing on giving to charities to aid this cause, is a common theme at harvest time.
Until the 20th Century in the UK, most farmers celebrated the end of the harvest with a meal, sometimes called the “Mell-supper”. The “Mell” was the last patch of corn or wheat left standing in a field, and cutting it down meant the end of the harvest. However, it was sometimes believed that it was bad luck to be the person who cut the last bit of corn, so farmers and harvesters would race to finish their fields before others.
Using a Tuff Spot, gather farm-themed toys from around your setting, such as tractors, diggers or trucks, and set out a “farm”. Next, grab some cereal such as Weetabix or Shreddies to simulate hay bales and produce for the children to move around the Tuff Spot. Your early years will have fun stacking and piling the cereal up, as well as seeing how much they can pick up with a digger! Adding containers or “silos” made out of toilet roll tubes is a great idea for children to “harvest” the produce and store it for the winter.
How are you marking Harvest Festival in your setting? Let us know using the hashtag #ournurserylife