Autumn Celebrations – Harvest time celebrations with children
Living in a temperate part of the world we get to enjoy four varied and beautiful seasons, which each bring their own gifts. For many people autumn is a special and celebrated season, starting with the autumn Equinox, which falls on or around the 21st September in the Northern Hemisphere. This is a point in the year (along with the Spring Equinox) where the sun illuminates the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, equally, a balance of day and night, and marks the start of autumn- from here on in we receive fewer hours daylight until the winter solstice.
Harvest Celebration Display
Most celebrations at this time are based around giving thanks for the years harvest, and preparing for the long, dark months ahead. Harvest time is traditionally one of the busiest times of the farming year, a time in which to gather in the crops and make preparations for the coming lean months. As we’ve become more used to buying strawberries in December and apples in June, so our link to the seasonal changes has weakened. Setting up a harvest display, or celebration ring with children is a lovely way to recognise the importance of where our food comes from and the effort it takes to gather it.
Foraging is a lovely way to connect with nature and children (and adults!) love to go blackberry picking or collecting hazel nuts. Make an apple and blackberry crumble, or try some jam making to have on homemade bread! There are some really great foraging books, and courses around the country to help learn about what is safe to eat- don’t pick or eat anything unless you are positive you know what it is! If you’re not quite ready for foraging in the wild, there are lots of pick your own farms with autumn fruit available- we even have a local National Trust that has pick your own damsons for making jam. Look out for apple juicing days locally, to take your windfall apples along to be juiced.
Many animals are at there most active at this time, like us gathering in their own harvest to survive the winter. Look out for busy squirrels collecting acorns, and listen out for Jays who will be doing the same thing – making stores of acorns for the winter. Make an area in the garden safe for hedgehogs to hibernate, with logs, leaves and straw, and leave some apples on the ground for blackbirds and thrushes to eat.
Michaelmas is held on the 29th September and traditionally marked the end of the harvest, and a time for feasting. In Waldorf schools it is celebrated as the “festival of strong will” and for smaller children it is focused on St Michael, who represents courage, subduing the dragon – and is symbolic of how we all face our own challenges.
Autumn is a great time for doing some crafts – with the beautiful colours of the changing leaves, and a warm autumnal light it’s an ideal time to get creative. We’ve got some lovely ideas on the blog, including this one from Jacqui to make an autumn leaf mobile >here<
There autumn equinox and its many associated festivals are celebrated across the world in its many variations- it’s a time of giving thanks, celebration, feasting and preparation. It will soon be time to wrap up warm and and embrace the coming winter months, with Halloween, Samhain and Diwali. How will you be welcoming in the autumn?