Harvest Festival and Autumn is not far away
After the long, hot, dry and sultry Summer we have just experienced I noticed a slight difference in the atmosphere the other day. The Earth had shifted slightly, the sun had moved position and hey presto Autumn is here again! Time for Harvest Festival. Do it still exist in Doncaster?
This brought to mind those things that herald the Autumn season. The Great British Bake off for one thing will be back on our screens before we know it. In addition an array of new drama and entertainment to replace the endless repeats of the Summer schedules will be upon us. Soups and stews will replace the salads and BBQs and of course the Harvest Festival will return. One day we might also manage to avoid Brexit discussions re food availability etc. Let’s hope so.
Harvest Moons and Harvest Festivals are still relevant wouldn’t you say?
Traditionally celebrated near the Sunday of the Harvest Moon, the full moon occurring closest to the autumn Equinox in September, the bringing in of the harvest has been celebrated as far back as pagan times.
The history of the Harvest Festival is interesting with local traditions handed down through the generations. It is a real mixture of pagan and religious ritual blended into a mass celebration of food and food security for the coming winter months. The apple barrel would be full, the pickle jars would be stuffed and the barley and wheat supplies would be eked out efficiently until the following summer. But does the harvest have any real relevance today?
We have the ability to shop for our favourite produce all year round
There seems to be an endless supply of out of season fruits and vegetables. Is that a good thing? Do we actually place any real value on the local harvest? Do we even mark the fact that it is gathered in with any significance anymore?
Who remembers Harvest Festival preparations?
I remember the call to action at school each year around the Harvest Festival. We all had to bring something edible into school, something that could be sold off at the church following the Harvest Festival service. I attended a Church of England primary school and they seemed to come up with any old excuse to hoick us down to the parish church on a much too regular basis. Harvest Festival was a biggie.
My Mum would scour the kitchen cupboards for tinned goods
We, as a family, were never likely to eat what she found. Next day she packed us off to school with the inevitable tin of pineapple chunks, a can of carrots or peas and perhaps a cabbage or turnip from my Dad’s allotment. I swear I don’t know anybody who has ever eaten tinned carrots, so I have no idea why we always had a tin lurking at the back of the cupboard every year.
The posh kids would turn up with beautifully crafted baskets of produce
This always included a giant marrow and we would march off down to church to sing the old staples, “We Plough the Fields and Scatter” and “Now Thank We all Our God”.
Eventually the produce would all be sold off, all proceeds going to the church steeple fund or some other random parish project and another harvest was safely gathered in.
Is it time we reappraised our attitude to this historic time of the year?
I am sure such things still happen in schools, places of worship and community centres across Doncaster, but do we need to do more to mark this crucial season in our food calendar? Perhaps this year’s long hot weather will produce a bumper crop and a food surplus. Isn’t this something to celebrate in an equally bumper way?
What do you think? We’d love to hear your views on anything related to food. Whether you want to talk food availability and Brexit, food politics of a different kind, regional recipes or anything at all, let us know. Do get in touch with our editor. She would be delighted to hear from you. We’d like all different kinds of opinions on this blog and positively welcome submissions.