Many of the churches in the area celebrate Harvest Festival in September or October. The Norton Church Harvest Festival is normally on the second Sunday of October. In 2017 this will be part of the 2017 Norton Festival.
Historically Harvest Festival used to be celebrated at the beginning of the Harvest season on 1st August and was called Lammas. The word ‘Lammas’ means ‘Loaf Mass’ and was a time when farmers would make loaves of bread from the new wheat crop and give them to their local church, where the loaves would be used as the communion bread during a special service of thanksgiving for the harvest. The present day ‘tradition,’ in some churches, of having a decorative ‘Harvest Loaf’ placed on the altar or in another part of the church, probably stems from this Lammas idea.
The present day form of celebrating Harvest Festival in churches originates from the nineteenth century when The Reverend Robert Hawker, in 1843, invited parishioners to a special service for the harvest at his church at Morwenstow in Cornwall. And it was the Victorian era that produced some of the well-known harvest hymns, such as ‘We plough the fields and scatter’ and ‘Come ye thankful people, come’ which helped popularise the idea of having a Harvest Festival and to decorate the churches with home-grown produce for the Harvest Festival Service.
Today we might not be quite so self-sufficient on home-grown local produce and the fact we are not so close to the soil might discourage us from recognising the role of Man with Creator working to sustain us but that partnership still exists and this working together could not be more important today.
So why not take time to reflect on God’s goodness and the importance of our working together by offering thanksgiving at least once a year on the occasion of your local church’s Harvest Festival.