Three Autumn FestivalsThree Autumn Festivals: Rosh Hashana, Sukkot, and Harvest Festival are three distinct religious celebrations observed by different communities, but they share some common themes of giving thanks for food, reflection, and community. Rosh Hashanah is coming up on the 15th of September, Sukkot on the 29th of September and Harvest Festival in late September, or early October. There are both similarities and differences in the celebrations.

  1. Religious Background:
    • Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and marks the beginning of the High Holy Days in Judaism. It is a time for Jews to reflect on the past year, ask forgiveness for their sins, and celebrate the world’s creation.
    • Harvest Festival is a Christian tradition. It is a time to give thanks for the harvest and blessings of the past year.
    • Sukkot is a Jewish holiday, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles. Sukkot commemorates the time when the Israelites lived in temporary shelters during their journey in the desert.
  2. Symbols and Customs:
    • Symbols of Rosh Hashanah include apples and honey (to symbolize a sweet New Year), the shofar (a ram’s horn trumpet), and round challah bread. Families gather for festive meals and attend synagogue services.
    • Symbols of the Harvest Festival include fruits, vegetables, sheaves of wheat, and agricultural produce. Assemblies where children bring in food items to be donated to those in need are often held.
    • The most prominent symbol of Sukkot is the sukkah, a temporary booth or shelter with a roof made of natural materials (such as palm fronds) through which one can see the sky. Families often eat their meals in the sukkah during the festival.
  3. Themes:
    • The main themes of Rosh Hashanah are repentance, reflection, and renewal. Jews take this time to ask for forgiveness for their sins and make resolutions for the coming year.
    • The main theme of Harvest Festival is gratitude for the bountiful harvest and the importance of sharing with those less fortunate. It teaches the value of generosity and community.
    • Sukkot celebrates the harvest season. It encourages gratitude for the bountiful harvest and reflection on the temporary nature of worldly possessions.
  4. Cultural Significance:
    • Rosh Hashanah is a deeply significant religious holiday for Jewish people, marking the start of the Jewish New Year. It is a time for personal reflection and communal prayer.
    • While Harvest Festival has religious roots in Christianity, it has become a more secular celebration in schools, focusing on themes of gratitude, charity, and community.

In summary, the three autumn festivals are distinct celebrations with different religious backgrounds, but they all emphasize reflection, gratitude, and giving back to the community. In UK schools, Harvest Festival is more commonly celebrated, while Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot may be acknowledged as part of a study of Judaism.

Three Autumn Festivals