Harvest 2023: Your questions answered

Read on as we answer your Frequently Asked Questions about Harvest, and how to celebrate it with your church, school or group.

Members of the Madalitso choir (meaning blessings), in William village.


Your Harvest FAQs:

Download our Harvest 2023 resources and join us as we celebrate the power of communities in the driving seat in Malawi.

Harvest History/Tradition
The tradition of celebrating the annual harvest has been recorded for thousands of years, but in UK churches, it enjoyed a revival in the 19th century. Many folk traditions have also emerged, including hosting feasts, dances and parades. In churches, it is common to have a service of thanksgiving.

When is the harvest festival celebrated?

Churches, schools and communities generally celebrate harvest in the early autumn (September to October), to coincide with the main agricultural harvest season.

What does a harvest festival celebrate?
The Harvest festival is an opportunity to give thanks for the food that we grow and the beauty of creation.

While in the UK, few people grow their own food, In many of our partner communities, arable farming is the main source of income and sustenance.

How is the harvest festival celebrated?

With hymns, seasonal prayers, and specially-themed worship. Why not use our Harvest 2023 resources with your Church or group?

It is also a time to pray for communities where harvest can be a difficult or uncertain period, and this harvest, we invite you to pray with our partner communities in the world’s most vulnerable countries.

What does the Bible say about Harvest Festival?
Harvest was a major time of year both spiritually and civically in the Old Testament. Two of the major Jewish festivals established in the Hebrew Bible (Shavuot and Sukkot) align with the two major harvests of the year, and the Israelite law contains instructions to set aside a portion of the harvest for “the poor and the foreigner among you.” This principle of using our “excess” resources to help vulnerable people in society remains at the centre of Harvest celebrations today.

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While the bible does not contain an instruction to celebrate the Harvest Festival as we would understand it today, the agricultural seasons were very important for ancient Israelites and early Christians. Because of this, Jesus uses agricultural metaphors in his teachings which are still relevant for us today. Whether it be the parable of the mustard seed (Mark 4:30-32), the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23), or Jesus’ appeal in Matthew 9:37-3, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Jesus’ teachings are full of reminders of our connection to the land, our need to thank God for what he provides, and our duty to the poorest in our world. All things which All We Can’s Harvest materials seek to remind us of.

How does Harvest Festival differ around the world?

The main harvest comes at different times in different climates, but most cultures have some way of marking the occasion.

In some areas of Nigeria there is a “New Yam Festival” with colourful ceremonies and much music and dancing, celebrating the arrival of the yam vegetable as a sign of a good year to come.

Dożynki is a tradition in some Slavic countries where the last sheaf from the harvest is formed into a wreath and processed through the village before being blessed by the local priest.

The traditional Thanksgiving celebrations in North America are also a variation on Harvest celebrations.

How will you celebrate Harvest? It’s not too late to join us in worship this year.

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