Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Autumn is Harvest
Autumn Harvest Festivals:
Agricultural societies in many parts of the northern hemisphere harvest their major crops in the autumn. In China the primary harvest is celebrated in autumn with the Moon Festival; it coincides with the full moon. The Jewish world observes the harvest festival of Sukkot during the first full moon following Rosh HaShana, and Canadians have their Thanksgiving holiday in October. The original American Thanksgiving is thought to have been held in early autumn, immediately after the harvest; in later years its date was pushed to the end of November for commercial purposes.
Linguistically, harvest is synonymous with autumn. Until the 16th century, "harvest" was the word English speakers used to refer to the autumn season; it is a direct derivative of the Old High German word "herbist" and the later German "herbst" which mean "autumn". The word in Old English is "haerfest"; the Dutch is "herfst". The Oxford English Dictionary defines "harvest" as follows:
1. The third season of the year, autumn.
2. The season for the cutting and gathering in of ripened grain and other produce.
3. The crop of ripened grain.
The OED offers this quote from Milton to illustrate proper usage of the word:
"Seed time and Harvest and hoary Frost shall hold their course."
a worm digs silently
into the chestnut
--Basho, 1644- 1694