Anglo-saxon Christians were all influenced by natural times and seasons, and the harvest was of great importance to them. Some older folklore did survive, but usually in a Christianised form. It is a modern superstition to invest such festivals with a sanitised modern pagan meaning. The celebration of Harvest is something natural to us as Christians.
Harvest began with “Lammas” the Hlaf Maesse or loaf Mass at the beginning of August when the first corn was harvested and loaves were made from it to be used at the celebration of Mass. It ended on Michaelmas, 29 October, the feast of the Holy Archangel St Michael.
Today we are largely distanced from the natural cycles of the earth by the availability of foods all year round, by electric light and central heating, and by being able to buy all our food from the produce of others.
The Harvest Festival teaches us of the goodness of God’s creation, and our duty to give thanks to the Lord for His generosity. Although we are mostly distanced from the production of the harvest, we do in fact rely on it, and on the working of the universe that God created. Thanks to the intellect which he gave us and to the work of others, we are able now to produce food with great efficiency, providing for far more people than in the past. As Christians, we attach importance to the invetigation of our world by means of the natural sciences. It is a myth, sadly repeated ignorantly at times by those involved in education, to describe the Church as opposed to science: the opposite is true, since the original impetus for scientific research found its place in Christian philosophy, and is beginning to break down precisely with the loss of that Christian culture.
Our celebration of the harvest is a celebration of God’s magnificent creation and the wisdom with which it is shot through, a wisdom that we did not put there, but discover by the hard work of scientific research, which can at its best, lead to great advances in the production of food, and the well-being of people throughout the world.
Therefore we also remember those who produce our food, and those around the world who suffer from poverty and famine, doing what is in our power to help by our charity, knowing that when we show love for others, we are counted by Our Lord as having shown that love for Him.