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September 2014

Discover the coolest harvest festivals from around the world!

Celebrating the harvest around the world

Autumn is a time for harvesting, both literally and metaphorically. At the end of the summer, we take this time to reflect on what we have earned -- to reap what we have sown -- and to prepare for the colder months ahead. Many countries celebrate harvest festivals during periods when crops are plentiful. Celebrations often entail feasts, parades, and the celebration of family. Today we take a look at some notable harvest festivals from around the world.

Moon Festival (China, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam)

The Moon Festival (also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival) occurs when the moon is at its fullest in the middle of autumn. Hailing back to the age of the imperial courts, namely the Tang Dynasty, the festival celebrates the full moon, the family, and food. A pastry known as the mooncake is consumed, a sweet and very dense miniature cake that’s meant for sharing. Inside, you’ll find a preserved egg or some sweet red beans. Hot tea is served and beautiful lanterns are lit.

Itel’men Tribal Harvest Festival (Northern Russia)

Way up north, out on the blistering tundra of Siberia, the indigenous people celebrate the Itel'men Tribal Harvest Festival. Held on the third week of September, the people of the Koriak, Itel'men, and Sunda return to their homelands and take part in a 43-mile hike up Mt. Evel. But the festival isn't just working and walking; there's also a delicious component to it in the form of a sweet rice dish known as "Pongal", made to celebrate the harvest of apples, nuts, and honey.

La Festa dell’Uva (Italy)

Also known as the Sagra dell’Uva, the Festa dell’Uva is a traditional festival of Colonna, a comune of Rome, that occurs every last Sunday of September. Held since 1961, the festival celebrates the culinary wealth of Italy, in particular the grape (or uva). Throughout the village, grapes are distributed and pressed, and, of course, wine bars are open throughout the event.

Sukkot (Jerusalem)

Sukkot is a festival of agricultural origin celebrated on the 15th day of Tishrei, the first month of the civil year of the Hebrew calendar. Lasting approximately 7-8 days, the holiday involves special prayers and the building of a "sukkah", a traditional hut made of various materials where meals are eaten and males take their rest.

Vendimia (Argentina)

The Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia, otherwise known as the Grape Harvest Festival, is a holiday originating from the city of Mendoza in Argentina. The festival, popular with tourists, attracts many for its celebration of winemaking. Dancers, performers, and a large fireworks display are just some of the offerings of this national celebration that has been held officially since 1936. A parade during the day is another big attraction, where chariots take to the streets with men dressed in the Gaucho style, the South American equivalent of the "cowboy".

Thanksgiving (USA, Canada)

The holiday of turkeys’ bane, Thanksgiving celebrates the meeting of gratefulness for the harvest and good times to come in the following year. In the United States, Thanksgiving pays tribute to the original Puritan settlers at Plymouth Rock, and cultural iconography like pilgrim hats and a cornucopia of food are often seen during the annual holiday.

How does your country celebrate the harvest? Let us know on Facebook and be sure to “like” TELC English for more articles on culture around the world!