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Harvest Festivals Around the World

Fall is traditionally the season of harvest, and all around the world countries give thanks for a year of bounty. Throughout the months of September through November, join in the celebration no matter where you choose to travel.

Chu Sok in Korea: On the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, Korean families thank ancestors for the fruits of their labor during Chu Sok. During this family-oriented holiday, rice and fruit offerings are left at the tombs of their ancestors. All members of the family partake in a feast featuring “Songphyun” – special rice cakes with beans, sesame seeds, and chestnuts.
On the eve of Chu Suk there is a special ceremony called Kang Kang Sue Wol Lae. Games such as wrestling, archery, and turtle tag take place and women dress in their best clothing and sing and dance in a circle.

Thanksgiving in the United States: Celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November, Americans honor the tradition of harvest and sharing began by the Pilgrims and Native Americans. Today families feast on American favorites such as turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie while giving thanks for the blessings in their life. 

Homowo Festival in Ghana & Nigeria: A 3-day Yam Festival takes place at the beginning of August to signal the end of the rainy season. The yam is a very important food in Africa, and Homowo is a three day celebration beginning with a cleansing ceremony in honor of family that has died. Twins and triplets are viewed as a special gift from God and receive special honors during Homowo. People dress up in brightly colored togas and feast on mashed yams with hard boiled eggs.

Harvest Moon Festival in China: The Harvest Moon Festival is celebrated when the moon is at its brightest – on the15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar, following the harvesting of rice and wheat crops. The Harvest Moon Festival also celebrates the birthday of the moon and Chang-O, a woman who flew to the moon and can be seen when the moon is full. Legend has it that flowers fall from the moon and bring good luck when it is full. During the Harvest Moon Festival people enjoy varieties of moon cakes.

Trung Thu in Vietnam: On August 15th the Vietnamese celebrate Têt-Trung-Thu, also referred to as the Children’s Festival, a family holiday where parents honor and show their love for their children. Children wear masks and carry lanterns in a parade to show pride in their schools. The Unicorn Dance, a traditional Vietnamese dance, is performed during festivities. Like the Harvest Moon Festival in China, moon cakes are a popular treat during Trung Thu.
Holi in India: Holi is celebrated the day after the full moon in early March to mark the end of spring. Bonfires lit from grains of the harvest signify the end of cold winter. Holi is known as one of the most colorful festivals of India because people run through the streets throwing colored powder and water at each other.

Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia in Argentina: Also known as The Grape Harvest Festival, Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia happens in March and celebrates wine. The festivities revolve around wine-making traditions, as well as lots of wine drinking.

Mehregan in Iran: Celebrated on October 2nd, Mehregan is also known as Thanksgiving Festival or The Autumn Festival of Harvest. Fruits, such as apples, grapes, pears, and pomegranates dominate the country’s feasts. A popular tradition is to place lotus seeds in a dish of water scented with marjoram extract in thanks for a bountiful harvest.

While many cultures have their own traditions for celebrating the harvest season, one thing all people have in common is their reliance on nature’s bounty and the common theme of being thankful for what the land provides.