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Thanksgiving Day



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Harvest Festivals

Harvest Festivals from Around the World

    Polish Harvest Festivals

    In Poland at the end of harvest, which is traditionally on or around August 15th, a crown of straw was placed on the head of a village girl. The mayor of the village then placed a rooster on top of the crown. The girl then led the way from the fields with musicians and villagers. It is said that if the rooster crowed it was considered good luck and the future would be good; if the rooster refused to eat, it was a looked upon as a bad omen and prospects for a good winter were bleak.

    Another version of the harvest festival tells of a different custom whereby the nobleman would receive a wreath of wheat and rye, bedecked with flowers, fruits and ribbons. The girl who reaps the most would be present a symbolic gift to the nobleman while singing "The fruits of the harvest we bring to the master's home." The presentation of the wreath of grain was followed by feasting and merrymaking.

    Sobotka, Midsummer's Eve, is celebrated in Poland by lighting bonfires and tossing garlands of flowers into the rivers. This tradition stems back to an ancient belief that fire protected one against misfortune. It was thought that a very good harvest could be ensured by filling the fields with smoke. Many European countries celebrated the day in much the same manner.

    The Polish custom once called for young boys to jump through the bonfire around which the young girls danced and sang. This very hazardous rite was the cause of many injuries and as a result it was abandoned years ago. The only traces of Sobotka that remain today in Poland are bonfires enjoyed by crowds of spectators along riverbanks on June 23rd and June 24th.

    In Krakow candle-lit wreaths are floated on the Vistula and a grand fireworks display is held to commemorate the holiday.

    Another Polish belief associated with St. John's Eve is that on this night the fern blooms only for a brief moment at night somewhere in the deep recesses of the forests. A legend tells that whoever finds the elusive fern will soon find great treasures.

    In Poland August 15 is the Christian festival of the Feast of the Assumption and is celebrated as the harvest. It is also referred to as the wheat harvest festival Dozynki Pod Debami or also the Festival under the Oaks, those who reap make wreaths out of grain, nuts, and corn. They present these wreaths to the master and mistress of the estate on which the wheat is grown, they are invited in for a feast, which is the followed by dancing.



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