A guide to the UK’s harvest time

Harvest season is an important time in the British farming calendar, as we reap the rewards of the past year and see crops harvested for food and animal feed. We have put together this guide on the harvest festival to take a closer look at the history and traditions of this important annual event.

harvest festival traditions

Harvest Festival Origins

What Is Harvest Day?

Here in Britain, we have been giving thanks for the harvest since Pagan times. Modern Harvest Festival celebrations often include singing a variety of traditional hymns, decorating churches with baskets of fruit and food and even religious prayer. The festival is also an opportunity for us to show gratitude for all the good and positive things that are happening in our lives, such as our family, friends and relationships.

When Is Harvest Day?

Here in The UK, the harvest festival doesn’t have an official public holiday date. Instead, it is usually celebrated on the Sunday nearest to the harvest moon, which is the full moon that occurs nearest to the Autumn equinox, usually towards the end of September.

Many schools and churches, particularly those in rural areas, will hold a Harvest Festival, but often the timing will vary depending on their local harvest time. Make sure to find out when your local area is celebrating its harvest ritual.

Top Harvest Festival Traditions

The British Harvest Festival includes a wide variety of traditions that have been upheld for many years. 

One of the most common sights to see is that guests will bring in food which will then be distributed among the poor and senior citizens of the local community or sold to raise funds for the local church or a chosen charity.

It has also become custom to decorate the church with home-grown produce for the festival service. 

Commonly festivals will also include the singing of a variety of hymns and songs, which will become familiar to those who attend year after year. 

There are also a whole host of ceremonies and rituals which occurred in these early days, but are not always so common now:

  •  - Church bells were rung on each day of the harvest.
  •  - A corn dolly was crafted from the last sheaf of corn harvested.
  •  - The horse bringing the last cartload was usually decorated with garlands of flowers ribbons.
  •  - A fantastic feast would be held at the local farmers’ house and games were played to celebrate.

Top Harvest day song.

The singing of hymns and songs began back in 1843; the first church festival with Reverend Robert Hawker invited parishioners to a special thanksgiving service at his church at Morwenstow in Cornwall. A selection of popular Victorian hymns including ‘Come ye thankful people, come’ and ‘All things bright and beautiful’ were sung and helped to popularise his idea of hosting an annual harvest festival.

What are the top harvest festival songs in 2021?

Our favourite songs for modern harvest festivals, which are suitable for both church or school events, include:

Our Top Five Harvest Festival Recipes

harvest recipes


Looking for some harvest festival recipe inspiration? We have prepared a list of fantastic recipes, from warm and hearty meals to sweet treats and snacks, that are just perfect for the autumn. 

Looking for a sweet treat? Nothing says autumn quite like a pumpkin. Instead of wasting the inside of your pumpkin this year, why not turn it into a delicious guilt-free snack? Take a look at our delicious, simple pumpkin muffin recipe to try it for yourself.

If you’re in need of a warm and hearty soup recipe to take to the harvest festival, then you can’t go wrong with our quinoa black bean pumpkin soup which is just perfect for those chilly autumnal evenings. View the recipe to make this at home.

Looking for something light but aesthetically inspiring? Why not impress your friends with this colourful salad. Simple to make with the help of a good spiraliser, this delicious meal is sure to be the talk of the table this season.

Did you know that sweet potato makes the perfect healthy treat? Whether prepared as a filling breakfast to kickstart your day or as a midday snack, when sliced and toasted it’s simply delicious. Take a look at our recipe to see our favourite topic suggestions.

What could be more traditional than a classic pumpkin pie this autumn? Our tantalising recipe will show you how to make the most of your fresh ingredients, enabling you to bake a mouth-watering pie that will wow your guests. 

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