The harvest festival is the festive highlight of the harvest season and is celebrated in Germany on the first Sunday in October, in some communities even earlier. On this day, people bring their gratitude to God and the earth for the rich harvest that has come this year. On this feast day, people proudly present their agricultural production and are grateful that the earth was so generous and nature meant well with them. With baskets full of juicy fruits, corn and pumpkins, wooden wagons are loaded, which move through the village and show all residents and guests, what the earth has given us this year. From the last spikes of grain a harvest crown is braided, which one brings to the church. There, first the solemn service takes place and only then is it celebrated! A fair takes place on Thanksgiving in many places. With feast and dances you celebrate the good end of the harvest season. A solemn celebration concludes the celebration.
Surely you already know that our harvest festival looks back on a centuries-old history. Its origin lies far back, even in pre-Christian times. It has been scientifically proven that Thanksgiving goes back to Roman customs. This feast of gratitude to God and nature has been officially celebrated since the 3rd century. As the harvest is different in time in different climatic zones and geographical regions, this holiday is also celebrated on different dates. As you know, the harvest festival in Germany falls on the first Sunday in October.
Similar festivals and customs in other countries in the world
Ethnologists are constantly exploring festivals and customs in different cultures and peoples around the world. You immediately notice the similarity between the German Thanksgiving Day and the American Thanksgiving Day. There are, of course, a number of differences between the two holidays, but on either side of the Atlantic one expresses his gratitude for the rich crops on a particular day. In the US, Thanksgiving Day is an official holiday and is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. A little later than in Germany. Americans like to decorate their homes, their gardens often contain many pumpkins and baskets full of ripe apples. This is a family party where you have lavish feasts. A stuffed turkey is always on the table and for dessert you like nibbling apple pie.
A Thanksgiving Day is also celebrated in Canada, but slightly earlier than in the US. This holiday falls on the second Monday in October and has the same character – one is grateful for all the agricultural products that were obtained from Earth during this year’s harvest season.
In Japan one celebrates a “day of thanks for the work”. This is an official public holiday in Japan, which is celebrated on the 23rd of November every year. Its origin goes back to the 7th or 8th century AD, when the Japanese emperor sacrificed freshly harvested rice to the gods. Thanks to the offering, they also thank you for the rich rice yields.
A Thanksgiving is also celebrated in Austria, where solemn processions are held on this day. There is a similar celebration in Scotland. There they prepare a harvest soup of fresh meat and vegetables called Hotch Potch. This food should have healing properties. In many other countries, old rites like the Germans live on Thanksgiving Day. For example, you make straw dolls from the last straw sheaves that remain symbolically in the field or are burned there. In many Asian countries such as China, Taiwan and Vietnam, a similar Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated according to the lunar calendar, on the 15th day after the 8th month. This is a moon festival there and we thank you for the rich harvest. So, even in the Far East, the tradition lives on and people always find a way to express their gratitude.
As you can see, festivals and customs related to our Thanksgiving day exist worldwide. All celebrations have one thing in common: they want to express their gratitude to God and the earth, and to say thank you that his hard work on land was not in vain. The good harvest is the best proof!