Do you remember when? Take a look at our harvest festival themed nostalgia picture gallery
HARVEST festivals have been a tradition in Britain since pagan times.
It was originally a fairly wild thanksgiving for the produce of field, farm and orchard, and had a strict date: the night of the harvest moon, at the autumn equinox.
Strict harvest festival fixers will still look for the full moon that occurs from September 23 but sometimes as late as October 5 to set their celebration of nature’s bounty.
A festival that was celebrated in a cropped cornfield or a barn and usually disintegrated into bacchanalia of energetic dance, music and drinking became more sane, moral and focused in the Christian era.
Well within living memory, churches and schools collected fresh produce for spectacular displays, the centrepiece of which was a huge bread sheaf from the local bakery.
Some still do, but the number has declined.
The produced was later distributed to the needy and elderly in the immediate area.
At some stage, it was noticed that the needy and elderly were being overwhelmed by large amounts of fresh produce that they couldn’t eat before it went stale or rotten.
This lead to a rethink, in which the emphasis shifted to tinned and packaged goods. This in turn led to harvest festival organisers thinking that such preserved food would be better packed off to people suffering from disasters in far distant lands.
Harvest festival produce this year, for instance, may well be making its way to flood-hit Pakistan.