Harvest Festival is a traditional celebration of finishing the gathering-in of the farmers’ harvests ~ a time to give thanks for the crops and the food that we eat. It is not a public holiday but it is recognised in most churches and schools in the UK. The date is calculated to be at the time of the so-called ‘harvest moon’, which is the full moon that occurs closest to the Autumn Equinox (usually 22nd/23rd September).
Schools, particularly primary schools, will sometimes arrange for their pupils to go to the local church during the weeks before or after the specified Sunday for Harvest Festival, or the vicar will visit the school. The children may be asked to bring in a small donation of food, e.g. canned tomatoes, a tray of apples, a bottle of sauce, etc., to add to a festive display. After the thanksgiving service, this collection will be distributed to people ‘in need’, such as a homeless shelter or an old people’s home.
(image: Michael Halling at geograph.org.uk / CC BY-SA 2.0)