November 18, 2018
As I understand it, the word ‘harvest’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon root, ‘haerfest’, which just means ‘autumn’ or ‘fall’. Over the years, it came to refer to the season of the year when the fields would be ready for reaping and the gathering of grain. This was a very important time in the life of the community, because without the harvest, there would be nothing to eat during the long, cold winter, and no seeds to be sown the following spring. In time, the full moon nearest to the autumnal equinox came to be known as the Harvest Moon. We still remark on this today, even though very few of us do much actual harvesting. We get our grain ready milled and baked into bread; our fruits and vegetables come ready picked and packaged. The fear of hunger remains for many, but it’s removed. We don’t fear a bad harvest, just the lack of funds that prevents us from purchasing the things we need.
Some regions of the world celebrate the beginning of the harvest with a festival called ‘Lammas.’ This is contraction of ‘Loaf Mass’. Farmers’ families made loaves of bread from the fresh wheat. These were taken to the local church and used as the Communion bread during a special service thanking God for the harvest.
As we celebrate the gifts of God, this Thanksgiving, we bring the offering of our lives: We thank Thee, then, O Father, for all things bright and good,
The seed time and the harvest, our life, our health, and food;
No gifts have we to offer, for all Thy love imparts,
But that which Thou desirest, our humble, thankful hearts.