How different cultures celebrate the fall harvest
The leaves are almost down in the high country, the reds are popping in town and the crunch of the fallen are beneath our feet. It’s nearing the end of autumn, which means the harvest is over. Last week we explored how we here in the Vail Valley used to celebrate this time with Old Farmer’s Day. But what do other cultures do to celebrate the fall harvest?
In Canada, our neighbors to the north, their festivity is called Thanksgiving; however, it’s very different than American Thanksgiving (even though you can find similar foods such as turkey, potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie). Instead, the Canadian Thanksgiving is held on the second Monday of every October to which celebrates the harvest and other blessings of the past year. There are many other vivid and impressive foods to commemorate the season including wild game, Jiggs dinner which is a tradition of corned or salted beef with vegetables and Nanaimo dessert bars.
Korea (both in the North and South) has a celebration called “Autumn’s Eve” or Chuseok. This is a multi-day festival that begins on the 14th day of the 8th lunar month and ends on the 16th day, all to honor the harvest, it does vary between regions. The holiday calls for people to return to their ancestral homelands and cook traditional food such as songpyeon (small, plump rice cakes) and confections like gwapyeon (sweet fruit jellies) or dasik (bite-sized cookies). Another tradition during this celebration is to return to ancestral graves where some will weed and landscape the area and tidy the graves of family members.
In Ghana, the harvest which occurs in August or September is called Homowo, or the Festival of the Yams. This celebration actually begins with planting crops, typically yams and maize, before the onset of Africa’s rainy season. During the celebration, families come together in hopes their festivities will bring on good, productive crops. There is traditional dancing with the celebration, singing and costume.