>Harvest Festivals: What does it all mean?


The Corn King gives his life for the land
We toast his sacrifice with ale in our hand,
And eat the bread, from the harvest made,
As sheaves of corn to the earth are laid.
It’s the harvest festival at my kids’ school today. And I sent them off, no not with loaves of bread or bags of fruit, not even the tin of baked beans or bottle of stout that it used to be when I was a girl, but with a bag of loose change. For today when they learn about the annual celebration of what the land has given us through our sweat and toil, they won’t be compiling food parcels for local people in need, but will be counting coppers to send to charity.
Ok, so the end result might be the same – giving to help those who need it, and I don’t object to that at all. But there are plenty of other opportunities for them to put pennies into buckets and boxes, or raise money for relief campaigns. What I wonder about is what the harvest festival is meant to signify. Isn’t it about our relationship with the land? Wouldn’t this be an ideal time for the school to discuss not just notions of ‘Christian charity’ (with a Pagan festival!), but also to raise kids’ awareness of just how precious the land is for our survival. Rather than send the message out yet again that all that counts at the end of the day is hard cash.
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