Harvest Home traditions have evolved over time |

“And you shall keep the feast of the firstfruits of the wheat harvest…”

– Exodus 34:22

If you grew up in a Lutheran or Reformed church, or one of the Mennonite meetinghouses in the valley, you’re probably familiar with the Harvest Home celebration. Many local congregations, especially those of Germanic descent, and others who had no connection to this heritage, once celebrated the harvest widely and many still do.

“The term ‘Harvest Home’ comes from the British Isles”, wrote Robert Wood for the Goshenhoppen Festival. “Where ancient Celtic and Saxon rituals of harvest frolics, harvest dances and harvest suppers celebrated the end of the grain harvest. It was a joyous time when, for example, the last sheaf of grain became the baby Kern (corn) and was dressed as a young girl and paraded through the streets as the frolic began.

“In the good old days,” he continued. “The largest pumpkins and squash, symbolic sheaves of wheat and corn chocks, home preserves of all kinds with baskets of fresh vegetables and fruits like apples, pears and peaches adding color were neatly arranged around the choir . It’s almost safe to say also that in every church the processional hymn was Henry Alford’s 1858 classic:

“Come, grateful people come

Raise the harvest song at home

Everything comes together safely

Before the winter storms begin…”

Pastor Trevor Hahn, of Trinity Lutheran Church in Danville, agreed that the tradition of Harvest Home goes back decades in the church “when food sharing would have been organized by churches rather than a food bank”. .

The Lutheran Congregation of Trinity now celebrates the harvest in October “by requesting that preserves of all types be brought by parishioners and visitors. The collection is then shared with the Danville-Riverside Area Food Bank to be included in their Thanksgiving meals,” he said.

Although the official celebration of Harvest Home has evolved, the tradition it started continues thanks to the generosity of those who give to food banks in our communities. Taking the time to celebrate the harvest and prepare for the winter storms to come seems like a wise thing to do.