Things to do

1. Christians send cards at Easter and at Christmas. Other religions send cards at some of their festivals, like the Islamic Id-ul-Fitr. Design a card to wish someone a happy harvest festival.
2. Gleaning means gathering the grain that has been left behind in the fields after the harvesters have done their work. The Hebrew scriptures show us that gleaning was an important source of food for the poor. Kindly farmers made sure that some corn was left, perhaps at the corners of their fields, so that the poor were catered for. Read how the widowed Ruth gleaned in the field of Boaz so that she had food for her mother-in-law. Ruth, chapter 2, verses 1-14.



3. Read Laurie Lee's poem, Day of these Days, which celebrates the time of year when mice run whispering from the church dragging dropped ears of harvest. What aspects of late-summer/early autumn, and of the harvest, does Lee focus on?

4. Make a classroom display of the harvest of the hedgerow - blackberries, rosehips, elderberries, perhaps crab apples. See if you can find out how people used to use these - for blackberry jam, crab apple jelly, elderberry wine or rose-hip syrup.

5. Read Leviticus 23, verses 42-3, where the Israelites are given the commandment to live for a period of seven days in 'booths' (tabernacles or tents). Today Jews mark the end of harvest by taking their meals, for a period of seven days, in an outdoor dining room

6. Find out more about the festivals of other religions. A useful series of booklets is published by the Religious and Moral Educational Press, Hennock Road, Exeter, EX2 8RP, and is called The Living Festival Series.

7. We associate harvest particularly with corn. That is because bread has always been such an important part of people's diet. In some countries, where rice is the basic source of carbohydrate, it is the rice harvest that matters. But all crops provide their own harvest. Read about harvesting hops in George Orwell's novel. The Clergyman's Daughter, chapter two, part three.

8. Find out how churches and chapels near you are celebrating harvest.