Cultural Celebrations of Crop Harvest
What is Harvest?
Harvest is the time when food crops are collected from the land after a growing season. According to Dictionary.com it is the season when ripened crops are gathered; a supply of anything gathered at maturity and stored. It is what some farmers anticipate when planting vegetable seeds in the spring and maintaining their crops during the growing season. It is gathering the last tomatoes for homemade marinara sauces, taking okra pods off their stems for winter gumbo soups and storing sweet potatoes as potential dessert treats of pie for the holidays. Harvest is the time when food crops are collected and enjoyed as ingredients in dishes after a growing season.
Celebration of Harvest
Harvesting is what happens after the celebrational journey of planning, planting, and maintaining food crops in the earth. This is celebrating the earth and the vitality it gives while we patronize it as consumers and stewards of food cultivation. Events such as festivals, sacred rituals and food feasts at the end a growing season are examples of symbolic harvest commemorations. There is no wrong or right way of celebrating food harvests, the important thing is honoring the process and journey that leads to harvest time. Commemorating the journey of preparing, planting, and maintaining food of the earth speaks to the vitality of the harvest period.
Cultural Harvest Celebrations
Various cultures proclaim harvest according to their traditions and history. Some harvest celebrations honor the earth, particular gods and deities, or earthly elements such as rain and the sun. Some cultural entities consider forces that assist in abundant yields during and after a growing season. Here are some cultural harvest celebrations that honor traditions and history.
Indonesia Rice Harvest
The Balinese people of Indonesia celebrate the rice harvest. According to Ni Luh Dian Purniawati’s article The Balineseh Goddess of Rice and Prosperity on BaliAround.com, Dewi Sri is the goddess of rice, fertility and prosperity. The article Most Famous Bali Festivals shares that the Rice Festival is celebrated by repainting the festival space as well as creating and placing small straw dolls all over the fields and villages as a tribute. These dolls represent the rice god(dess). In addition to this activity, there is a bull race event, SABC Digital News shares a video of the annual bull racing event at the end of rice harvests in Indonesia.
The history of the Homowo Festival has been created by the Ga people in Ghana. GhanaWeb.com shares that this cultural harvest celebration starts when traditional priests sow millet and impose a thirty day ban on drumming on the land. This commemoration recounts the migration of the Ga people revealing their agricultural success in their new settlement; the Ga oral tradition shares that a famine broke out during their migration to present day Accra. It is told that the famine encouraged the Ga to make food production exercises that led to harvests. Their hunger ended and the people “hooted at hunger” which is the meaning of the word Homowo. Daniel Amintsi has created a video that shows the Teshie Homowo festival with various ceremonies such as the Yam Fest.
Aztec Rain Festival Celebration
Present day Mexico has a history of being ruled by Spain since about the fourteenth century, prior to that it was under Aztec rule. There have been rituals and events that acknowledge the ancient Aztec ways such as honoring the rain god Tlaloc. The article Tlaloc-The Aztec God of Rain and Fertility: The Aztec Version of an Ancient Pan-Mesoamerican Rain Deity shares the following points about Tlaloc:
- Thought to live on top of mountains and sent reviving rains down to people
- Is traced back to Teotihuacan and the Olmec
- Is also known as Chaac by ancient Maya and Cocijo by the Zapotec of Oaxaca
- Governs the spheres of water, fertility and agriculture; oversaw crop growth (especially maize)
There are rain festivals celebrated three times a year to acknowledge the rain god; Owlcation.com provides an article Ancient Aztec Festivals Celebrations and Holidays that discusses the festivals’ details. The first festival begins at the start of the agricultural year in February where priests and shamans conduct rituals to encourage rainfall. The second festival occurs in March when flowers emerge to signify arrivals of first new life from the earth; the third event takes place in the autumn season and people form shapes of small mountains and images of Tlaloc.
Here are some videos that display rain dances still practiced today that acknowledge the Aztec celebrations of rain.
Aztec Rain Dance Cholula by Melanie Lake
Your Harvest Celebrations
Harvest is the time when food crops are collected from the land after a growing season. Commemorating the journey of preparing, planting, and maintaining food of the earth speaks to the vitality of the harvest period. Various cultures proclaim harvest according to their traditions and history; the Ga people of Ghana, the Balinese of Indonesia and the people of Aztec descent are just a few groups that do this. They acknowledge elements of rains, gods and deities that assist with their harvests. There are many farmers and food cultivators that practice their own particular crop harvest celebration.
What are some of your harvest celebration practice? How do you celebrate the harvest of food? Why is it important to you? Feel free to share and comment. HAPPY HARVEST!