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Harvest Festival used to be celebrated at the beginning of the Harvest season on 1 August and was called Lammas, meaning 'loaf Mass'.

image: Combine Harvester
A Combine Harvester - a machine that harvests grain crops

image: breadOn this day, farmers made loaves of bread from the new wheat crop and gave them to their local church. They were then used as the Communion bread during a special mass thanking God for the harvest. The custom ended when Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church.

Lord of the Harvest

At the start of the harvest, communities would appoint a strong and respected man of the village as their 'Lord of the Harvest'. He would be responsible for negotiating the harvest wages and organising the fieldworkers.

Alison emailed to tell us about her Great Great Great Grandfather:

imagr: Joshua Walker"My Great Great Great Grandfather was called Joshua WALKER. He was born in 1851 in a small village in Hertfordshire called WILLIAN. He was an agricultural labourer who worked on Lordship Farm in Willian along with various brothers, cousins, sons and nephews. He must have been quite important amongst the labourers because he was given the title “LORD OF THE HARVEST” and it was his responsibility to bring the last snook (sheaf) of corn back to the farm to officially declare the Harvest safely gathered in before the Harvest Feast started."

Photograph is of Joshua WALKER on his hay wagon

When is Harvest Festival today?

Harvest festivals are traditionally held on or near the Sunday of the Harvest Moon. This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox (about Sept. 23). In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October.

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