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Thanksgiving Day



Happy New Year

Harvest Festivals

Harvest Festivals from Around the World

    Japanese Harvest Festival

    In Japan the harvest festival is the rice harvest. None of the rice is to be eaten until a special event has happened. There are dances and a procession and a huge feast.

    Koshogatsu means literally "Small New Year" and starts with the first full moon of the year usually around January 15th. The main events of Koshogatsu are rites and practices praying for an ample harvest.

    In the autumn harvest festivals are held, and the first fruits of the paddy field are offered to the gods.

    In rural villages the entire community celebrates this autumn festival, and in many places floats carrying symbolic gods are paraded through the streets. At the Imperial Palace the Emperor fulfills the role of presenting offerings of new grain and produce to the gods.

    The Shinto rites at New Year's were originally festivals at which people prayed for a bountiful harvest in the coming year, and the rice-planting and other paddy-field festivals that are still celebrated throughout Japan also involve prayers for a good harvest. Kimono-clad girls, their sleeves tied back with red sashes, plant the rice, while musicians perform nearby with drums, flutes, and bells. The dance traditionally associated with such festivals gradually evolved as a part of the noh theater.

    Yagan Orimi is a traditional harvest festival in Aguni, an island near mainland Okinawa. In recent years, have been visiting the island to see the festival, where islanders offer prayers not only for a good harvest, but, also for the safe delivery of their infants.

    In Japan long ago, the new autumn rice harvest could not be eaten until after a festival in honor of the rice spirit. There was dancing, singing and waving of fans. Everyone joined in a great feast. Now that day is a national holiday and it takes place on November 23. The name of the festival has also been changed it is now called Labor Thanksgiving Day. At midnight the Japanese emperor offers the first fruits of autumn at a special altar.

    In Japan there is a custom of tsukimi or also known as Moon-viewing which is observed on September 15 at the time of the full moon. Everyone sets up a table facing the horizon so as to see the moon rising, and place offerings on these tables to the spirit of the moon. These offerings include a vase holding the seven grasses of autumn, cooked vegetables and tsukimi dango or moon-viewing dumplings made out of rice flour.



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