A Happy Thai Pongal to all Travellerspoint members!
Today is Thai Pongal in Sri Lanka and I think also in South India. This is a festival associated with farmers and their first harvest for which thanks is offered to nature for a good yield, hence traditionally, the first grains of the harvest are boiled at dawn and milk and sugar/jaggery is added to sweeten the harvest and thanks is offered to the sun at sunrise. The entire festival is actually three days and the last day is for the cow/cattle which helped in the previous year by tilling the soil etc.
This is one of the major festivals for Tamil Hindus in Sri Lanka and nowadays, it is more or less simply a day where 'pongal' (the sweetened milkrice) is cooked and shared with family and neighbours and maybe a visit to the temple.
What are the festivals of your country that stem from the harvest season or are agriculture/ farming-based?
Here in Bavaria, Germany, the big harvest festival is the October beer festival. It starts in September, and goes on for a month. People dress up in traditional clothes and drink beer and eat, in tents, which have been specially set up, for the purpose.
I googled the Bavarian October beer festival and came across the Oktoberfest, said to be the largest people's fair in the world. It was interesting reading about its origins, starting with the commemoration of a royal wedding in 1810 and then coupling with the State Agricultural Fair in subsequent years.
Thanks for sharing the info,
[ Edit: Edited on Jan 15, 2007, at 3:50 AM by Ahila ]
I think you got it a little bit wrong.In Germany and Bavaria is a part in Germany the "real"Harvest is called Erntedankfest.
celebratet in Okt.The people bring fruits,vegetables,flowers,bread to the church in beautyful arrangements and the prist will bless this offers.
the Oktoberfest is in Munich but the Erntedankfest is celeb.in all villages,manly in the katholic regions.
In Quebec, we have what's called "sugaring off" in the early spring when the maple sap is flowing. Most people will get a big group together and head out to a cabane a sucre (sugar shack), which usually seat a few hundred people in huge, huge halls filled with picnic tables covered in checkered cloths. Then waitresses come out with bowl after bowl of scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, des oreilles de crisse (it's like rock-hard, salty bacon), baked beans, pickles, cocktail weenies in sauce, donuts, crepes, sugar pie, and bottle after bottle of maple syrup. It's disgustingly good and unhealthy. Lovely.
Also in Canada is Thanksgiving in early October, which is a holiday to celebrate the fall harvest. The USA has a Thanksgiving as well in late November.
Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to get together with family and have a big dinner, usually of turkey. In my family, we always have a pumpkin pie for desert, which is a pie with a pumpkin filling.
I googled 'Erntedankfest' and read an article that described it as the German harvest festival.
I also read that the festival is considered primarily to be the precursor to the American and Canadian Thanksgiving. I was under the impression that the first American thanksgiving was the thanksgiving offered by some pilgrims for their safe landing and their first meal onshore. Would appreciate clarification on this by anyone who celebrates the American Thanksgiving or has read more about its origins.
 After I posted, I saw Greg's post which answers my question on what the Canadian thanksgiving is about. The American thanksgiving though, is it a thanksgiving for a good harvest or did it originate from a safe landing?
 Tina, If I ever visit Quebec, I will try to visit it when the maple sap starts flowing and will make sure that I visit a cabane a sucre. It sounds delicious. Plus, I love maple syrup.
[ Edit: Edited on Jan 15, 2007, at 6:38 AM by Ahila ]
American Thanksgiving has always been explained as the Pilgrims celebrating their arrival, bountiful harvests and new friends - the Native American Indians. Recently, historians and archeologists have gone back and researched the original Thanksgiving. Here are links for articles on History.com. They give what is considered a more accurate depiction of the gathering, when it happened and when Thanksgiving actually became a holiday.
[ Edit: Edited on Jan 15, 2007, at 6:31 AM by Isadora ]
Thanks, Isa, for the links and clarification.
look at google for Simadan,you will find alot about the harvest
celebrations from Bonaire and Curacao.
the Simadan(Harvest)is very african.
I love it very much and join always the parade,dancing and singing along with the local people.
the Oktoberfest(Bierfestival) starts every year the last week in September and ends after the first week from Oktober.
So it is "only" 2 weeks going on,not 4.