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Harvest Festivals Around the World

Harvest Festivals Around the World

Judie Haynes

Harvest Festivals have been held as long as people have been sowing and gathering food. Show your students how people all over the world celebrate the harvesting of a good crop.

People from various cultures all over the world celebrate the gathering of the harvest. Harvest Festivals have been held as long as people have been sowing and gathering food. For Americans, this harvest festival is held on the fourth Thursday of November and is called Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving feast goes back to 1621 when Pilgrims shared a celebration with the Native Wampanoag People.

Teach your students about the harvest feasts people from other parts of the world celebrate. The following festivals are examples of a few of these celebrations.

Homowo Festival in Ghana

•Tell the story of the yam festival to students. Include information that is appropriate to their grade and English language levels.

African people have always had festivals at the time of the harvest. In Ghana the Yam Festival (Homowo) lasts three days. The festival begins with a cleansing ceremony to honor family members who have died. Farmers give thanks to the gods who ensure a good harvest. Twins and triplets are honored during this time as a special gift from God. Yams are an important crop in Ghana. During Homowo, they are taken from the ground and are carried to the village. Then they are blessed by the chief. Special foods made from yams are served. Mashed yams with hard boiled eggs are an important part of the festival. People also eat Kpekpele which is made from corn meal and palm oil. During homowo people wear a kind of toga made from kente cloth which is brightly colored. The festival ends with a big feast. People dance and sing to the sounds of drums

• To celebrate this festival have students taste mashed yams and compare them with mashed white potatoes. Which do they like best?

• Students can also design kente cloth made with brightly colored geometic patterns. Find examples of this cloth see Kente cloth. After getting to the Marshall University web site, type “kente cloth” into their search engine.

• Lesson plans on this topic are at Grade 2 lesson plans.

Harvest Moon Festival in China

• Tell students a story about the Chinese Harvest Moon Festival.

The Chinese Harvest Moon Festival is celebrated on the15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar in honor of the harvesting of the rice and wheat crops. At this time the moon is at its brightest. This is thought to be the birthday of the moon and Chang-O, a woman who flew to the moon and can be seen when the moon is full, is honored. Another legend is that flowers fall from the moon when it is full. The flowers bring good luck. Moon cakes are the traditional food to eat during this festival. This dates back to 1368 when China was under Mongolian rule. The Chinese planned a revolution to overthrow the Mongolians. They sent secret messages to plan this revolution in mooncakes which were not eaten by the Mongolians. During the Chinese Moon Festival families get together to view the full moon, a symbol of luck, harmony and abundance. Adults will eat many different varieties of moon cakes with a good cup of piping hot Chinese tea. Along with the mooncakes, children have parades with lanterns and puppet shows. Chinese Moon Festival is also celebrated in Taiwan, Singapore, and Vietnam.

• Have students develop several questions or riddles about the Harvest Moon Festival. Ask them to write each question on a separate squares of paper. Fold the paper several times. Make a moon shaped pocket out of yellow construction paper. Have students pass their “mooncake” to a classmate. Divide the students into teams. Each student must find the questions in his/her cake and answer them. If a student cannot answer the question, the other team gets a chance to respond.

• Let students make “good luck” cards with flowers in them to commemorate the Harvest Moon Festival. Use yellow construction paper in the shape of a full moon. Have students draw pictures of flowers and cut the picture out. Attach the picture to the inside of the card.

• Using a Venn Diagram, have students compare the Harvest Moon Festival with the Yam Festival in Ghana. Read stories associated with this festival at Harvest Moon stories.

• Have students begin our Harvest Festival Chart.

Next page: More harvest festivals…

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