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A harvest festival is an annual celebration which occurs around the time of the main harvest of a given region. Given the differences in climate and crops around the world, harvest festivals can be found at various times throughout the world. Harvests festivals typically feature feasting, both family and public, with foods that are drawn from crops that come to maturity around the time of the festival. Ample food and freedom from the necessity to work in the fields are two central features of harvest festivals: eating, merriment, contests, music and romance are common features of harvest festivals around the world. In Asia, the Chinese Moon Festival is one of the most widely-spread harvest festivals in the world. In India, Pongal in January, Holi in February-March and Onam in August-September are a few famous harvest festivals. In North America, Canada and the US each have their own Thanksgiving celebrations in October and November. Numerous religious holidays, such as Sukkot, have their roots in harvest festivals.

In Britain, thanks have been given for successful harvests since pagan times. The celebrations on this day usually include singing hymns, praying, and decorating churches with baskets of fruit and food in the festival known as Harvest Festival, Harvest Home or Harvest Thanksgiving.
In British churches, chapels and schools and in Canadian churches, people bring in food from the garden, the allotment or farm. The food is often distributed among the poor and senior citizens of the local community, or used to raise funds for the church, or charity.
In the USA, many churches also bring in food from the garden or farm in order to celebrate the harvest. The festival is set for a specific day and has become a national holiday known as Thanksgiving which falls on the fourth Thursday in November. In both Canada and the USA it has also become a national secular holiday with religious origins, but in Britain it is both a Church festival giving thanks to God for the harvest, and a more secular festival remembered in schools.

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Additional Photos by Krzysztof Dera (Fis2) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5309 W: 157 N: 7186] (84628)
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