pumpkin and corn for fall harvest festival
Harvest festivals are celebrated around the world.

The word “harvest” usually refers to the act of gathering fully ripe crops at the end of a growing season. Historically, the end of harvesting marks an important time for many cultures. This period usually includes various festivals. While the Thanksgiving holiday is a harvest celebration for many stateside, there are several harvest-related festivities across the world. From Yam Festivals in West Africa to Korea’s Chuseok/Hangwai and more, let’s explore some of the world’s harvest celebrations.

Yam Festival

Each year, the Igbo peoples of West Africa acknowledge the end of the rainy season and the arrival of yams, the most prominent crop. Depending on the year, the Iri ji or Iwa-ji festival (Igbo for “new yam eating”) is held either in August or September. Practiced in Nigeria, Ghana, Papua New Guinea, and other parts of the world, this festival takes place for several days and involves only yam dishes. In some communities, people eat or discard all of the previous year’s yams the night before the New Yam Festival.

Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival is one of the major holidays in Chinese culture, rivaling the Chinese New Year in popularity. Dating back to over three millennia, this festival is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese calendar. This corresponds to mid-September to early October on the Gregorian calendar. According to the culture, the moon is at its largest and brightest, occurring at the same time as harvest. Traditionally, the Moon Festival is held to show gratitude for the year’s harvest and to encourage the light to return for next year’s bounty. Pastries filled with red bean paste, lotus seed paste, or salted egg yolks called “mooncakes” are served. Similar festivals are held in Japan, Taiwan, and Vietnam.


Chuseok, Korean for “autumn evening,” is a mid-autumn harvest festival and a three-day holiday in South Korea. It is also called Hangawi, which is Korean for “the great middle of autumn.” It is the largest holiday celebration in South Korea, but North Koreans only acknowledge one day of Chuseok. This festival is held around the end of summer or in the early fall. For Chuseok/Hangawi, celebrants visit the hometowns of their ancestors and partake in a feast of traditional foods. Many visit ancestral graves and hold memorial services and present meals as offerings.


Hebrew for “booths” or “tabernacles,” the word Sukkoth or Sukkot is the name of a seven- to eight-day holiday acknowledged by the Jews. It is held on the 15th day of Tishri on the Jewish lunisolar calendar, which corresponds to September or October.  During this “Feast of Booths,” participants build booths to recall the period of exile of the Israelites after fleeing Egypt. Sukkoth marks the conclusion of the harvesting season.

Tai Pongal

Tai Pongal is a Hindu harvest festival held by Tamil people in India and Sri Lanka. Unlike other harvest festivals that occur in the fall, Tai Pongal or Pongal is observed at the beginning of the Tai month on the Tamil solar calendar, around January 14. Historically, Pongal marks the end of the winter solstice and the beginning of the sun’s journey northward. This festival is three to four days long and is dedicated to the sun deity. As part of the celebration, a traditional milk-boiled and sugared rice dish called Pongal is served. It is first offered to deities, then the sacred cows, and finally, participants. Other activities include adorning cattle with decorations, ritual bathing, and processions.

Our Earth is a collection of many cultures, traditions, and faiths. Despite geographic and language boundaries, harvest time is globally a time to celebrate with similar activities. Participants will gather to enjoy meals (Thanksgiving, Chuseok/Hangawi), pay tribute to ancestors (Sukkot), and express hope for the future (Moon Festival), among other traditions.


  1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

    Why has there been no mention of Nikolaustag / St. Nicholas day and a Krampus. Disappointing.....

  1. Christopher W Hedding's Avatar Christopher W Hedding

    Would enjoy seeing something on Wiccan sabbats. You kinda leave them out.

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