Harvest Festivals Around the World
by 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.
- 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.
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.
Harvest Moon Festival in China
- Tell students a story about the Chinese Harvest Moon Festival.
- 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 commerate 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.
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.
Chu Suk in Korea
- Present the story of Korean Thanksgiving to your students.
- Have students compare Chu Suk to the Chinese Harvest Moon festival. Make a list of things that are the same and those that are unique to each celebration.
- The Korean hanbok is one of the most distinct aspects of Korean culture.The top part of the hanbok is called a jeogori. It is like a short blouse with long sleeves. Women also wear skirts called chima. This traditional clothing is bright colored. The hanbok is often worn during national holidays and festive occassions.Various accessories such as foot gear, jewelry, and headdresses or hair pins completed the outfit. Have students visit the website Traditional Korean Clothing. Ask them to pick a type of clothing from the menu and write about it. They can also make a drawing of the clothing they choose.
Chu Suk is a Korean harvest celebration which is considered the Korean Thanksgiving. It is held on the 15th of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. Memorial services are held during which family members visit the tombs of their ancestors and offer them rice and fruit.
There is a special feast to show thanks for each other. The feast starts with a family gathering at which "Songphyun" is served. These are special rice cakes made of rice, beans, sesame seeds, and chestnuts.
The eve of Chu Suk is called Kang Kang Sue Wol Lae. During this ceremony women make a circle and sing and dance. They wear their best hanbok. People also have wrestling, archery, folk music, and they play a game called turtle tag. Chu Suk is the time to celebrate the family and give thanks for their blessings.
Trung Thu in Vietnam
- Tell students the story of Trung Thu which is celebrated in Vietnam. Beautiful pictures of this holiday can be found in Children Just Like Me - Celebrations.
- Have students read or listen to the Vietnamese harvest story Watermelon. This story is on the internet.
- Have students make a mask for this holiday. They can make colorful masks from construction paper or use the paper mache masks featured at Kinder Art Directions for making masks from paper plates can be adapted from Enchanted Learning.
In Vietnam, Têt-Trung-Thu is a mid-Autumn celebration which takes place on August 15th. This is a family celebration and children are the center of the holiday. It is an occasion for parents to show their love of their children. This festival is also called the Children’s Festival. This holiday also celebrates the harvest moon which is whiter and brighter at this time of year.
There is a parade to promote success in school. Parents buy their children lanterns so that they can be in the procession. Vietnamese market stalls sell all kinds of lanterns but the most popular is the star lantern. The frame is made from bamboo and a candle is put in the center so that children can have light during the parade. Children also like to make or buy masks for this celebration. Traditional Vietnamese dances such as the Unicorn dance are popular during the festivities.
Vietnamese parents tell their children fairy tales and give them mooncakes and other treats to eat. A favorite story is about a carp that wants to be a dragon. The carp works very hard and finally turns into a dragon. The moral of this story is that if children work hard in school, they can become anything they want.
Holi in India
- Tell students the story of Holi.
- There is a very good story on the internet from India. Go to The Rupee Tree.
- Have students learn about Indian culture. Take them to Time for Kids to learn about a day in the life of an Indian child.
- Have students color a rangoli pattern on line at Rangoli Patterns.
- Let your students study Indian culture through clothing, toys and other interesting topics at Indian Toys.
- Send Holi greeting cards at Holi Greetings.
- Help students learn a few words of Hindi at India Past and Present.
Holi is a harvest celebration marking the end of spring. It is celebrated each year on the day after the full moon in early March all over India. This is one of the most colorful Indian festivals.
Bonfires are lit to banish the cold winter and grains from the harvest are offered to the flames. During the festival there is plenty of color throwing, prayer, fasting and feasting. People run through the streets throwing colored powder and water at each other. There is exchange of greetings, the older people give out sweets and money and everyone joins in dancing to the rhythm of the drums. This is a celebration of joy and hope which is eagerly awaited by Indians.
© 1998-2005 Judie Haynes, www.everythingESL.net