Autumn at the Arboretum Commemorates the Harvest Season
Why do we celebrate autumn with so much food and so many gatherings? It goes back to the harvest season. The crops, such as corn and squash, planted in spring and summer mature and become ripe for picking in autumn. In the United States and Canada, Thanksgiving is the major harvest festival, and we are not the first or only people to gather for a day of feasting and remembering the many good graces of the year.
History of Harvest
For centuries, communities have gathered to celebrate harvest season. This celebration is the culmination of seasons of crop preparation and days or weeks of actually harvesting crops that will sustain them through the winter. The roots of our own Thanksgiving celebration reach back to European settlers who brought their Harvest Festival tradition to the Americas.
The European Harvest Festival began in pagan times and is still celebrated throughout Europe on the Sunday closest to the Harvest Moon. Cultures around the world have celebrated the harvest for millennia, at various times throughout the year depending on climate, seasons, and crops. Historical records from East Asia to South America depict these celebrations, characterized by sharing the harvest with friends and family, enjoying a brief respite from work to celebrate, and expressing thankfulness.
The Nature of Harvest
Take a look at nature right now. (We have the blessing to get to do this all the time at the Dallas Arboretum, especially right now at the height of our harvest festival, Autumn at the Arboretum.) You may get the feeling that we’re not the only ones celebrating this beautiful time of year. Foliage in the trees is changing to brilliant colors, animals are scurrying to gather food for winter, and the weather is absolutely inviting. Animals, much like ourselves, are making their winter preparations. Many creatures stash food away to eat during the cold months, and others, like raccoons, find a nice spot to sleep through the winter. Just like us, they feast and create a warm home to keep them safe.
Even the plants get in on the winter preparations. Those beautiful leaves are like that for more than just our enjoyment! When you see leaves changing colors, the trees are reacting to the weakening of the sun. Less sun means the trees begin to use the nutrients they’ve stored up over summer, so the bright colors are a last attempt to soak up the low level sun rays of autumn before the leaves drop off for winter.
It’s amazing that in each case—human, animal, and plant—the fall season is dedicated to harvesting the last of our summer bounty to prepare for winter. We just happen to be lucky enough to also take time to celebrate it!
From Our Family to Yours!
For the Rory Meyer’s Children Adventure Garden, 2017 has been a sensational year! So in the spirit of harvest season we would love to thank you for your support, and share one of our favorite activities with you. Autumn often revolves around nutrition, with our Nails for Breakfast lab you and your little ones can investigate your breakfast and find out what’s inside!
If you love this experiment, stop by the Plant Lab any day at 11 AM, 1 PM, or 3 PM to participate in the lab of the day! (And check our website for all our science activities to dig into the harvest season with your young adventurers.)
Thank you, and happy harvesting!