Theme Fun: Harvest Festivals

Harvest festivals take place all over the world, and have for centuries. Doing a few ... or several ... of the activities in this theme would be a great addition to traditional Thanksgiving Day lessons.


Harvest Festivals Around the World


"Sukkot," also known as "Feast of the Tabernacles," is a Jewish harvest festival that is celebrated in the month of September or October.

Recipes for Sukkot:

According to appropriate recipes include "any dish incorporating the harvest of one’s own region is appropriate for Sukkot, but particularly those which feature a number of ingredients within, like stuffed vegetables, fruits, and main-dish pies -- miniature cornucopia symbolizing the plenty with which we have been blessed and for which we hope throughout the coming new year." At that link there are over 50 very interesting recipes that you might want to experiment with.

More information, and several activites, for celebrating Sukkot can be found at

Wheat Harvest Festival

The Wheat Havest Festival, celebrated in the rural areas of France, takes place during the last week of August. There are also several famous grape harvest festivals in France.

Look at a map of France. How many different regions in France are well known for their wines or food? (Examples: Burgundy, Bordeaux, etc.)

Try making your own French Bread by following these directions.

Dissolve 1 package quick dry yeast or soften 1 cake fresh yeast in 1/4 cup luke warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes. Put 1/2 cup lukewarm water into a bowl and add 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons shortening. Add 1 cup unbleached flou r, beating thoroughly. Add the yeast mixture. Add 1/2 cup more flour, beating again very hard. Then fold in 2 egg whites beaten stiff. Add enough flour to make a soft dough -about 2 cups or 3 1/2 cups flour altogether.

Knead on a floured board until smooth, satiny and very elastic. Put in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled in bulk. Punch it down. Let it rise until doubled again. Knead it down lightly. Cover it and let it rest 10 minutes. Roll out the dough on a f loured board into an oval shape - fold long sides in toward the center. Shape into a roll about 15-18 inches long, slightly wider in the center and tapering at either end. Place it on a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with corn meal. Cover it with a damp cloth and let it rise until rounded and light.

Brush the loaf with a glaze made by cooking 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup cold water until thick and clear, stirring constantly. Cool before spreading on the bread. Cut 1/2 inch diagonal gashes in the bread with scissors. Put a l arge pan of boiling water on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake the bread in a hot oven 450 degrees F, fifteen minutes until a golden brown. Then reduce the head to 350 degrees and bake 20 minutes more. When you thump the bread and it sounds "hollow", the bread is done. remove it from the baking sheet and cool it on a rack.

Harvest Moon Festival

The Harvest Moon Festival of China is a special time of feasting and honoring of the Chinese goddess of the moon.

Learn about what kinds of crops are grown and harvested in China.

Moon Cakes are one of the special foods eaten during the Harvest Moon Festival. Follow the directions at one of the following websites to make your own.

Moon Cake 1

Harvest Home

During "Harvest Home" worshippers throughout England decorate their churches with flowers, fruits, grains, and vegetables. The food is later donated for distribution to the needy.

Decorating for Harvest Home

Try having a food drive amongst your friends and family. When you have collected everything, donate the food to a local charity that specializes in outreach to the elderly or to families with children.

What is gleaning? See if there are some gleaning projects in your area and participate in one.

Native American Harvest Ceremonies

Several Native American peoples have special harvest festivals. The Cherokee Nation celebrates "Itse Selu" and the Iroquois Nation has its own "Harvest Ceremony."

Using an internet search engine, encyclopedia, or the library, see how many different Native American harvest ceremonies that you can find. How are they similar? How are they different?

Corn was vital to the survival of many Native American tribes. Collect many different food labels and see how many contain corn products.

Research to find how many different things can be made from corn. Some examples: corn syrup, corn meal, corn starch, corn cob jelly, corn husk dolls, etc.

Colonial Americans also relied heavily on corn. They stuffed cotton ticks with dried corn husks to make mattresses. They took dried corn husks and bound them together to make scrub brushes. How many other ways can you find that the corn plant has been used?

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