Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Autumn Equinox: Celebrating the Harvest

The Autumn Equinox: Celebrating the Harvest

Ellen Jackson
Illustrator:  Jan Davey Ellis 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Millbrook Press, 2000   ISBN: 978-0761319849

During the third week in September there is a day when daylight hours equal nighttime hours. This day is called the autumn equinox and it is the first day of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. After this day the days begin to get shorter as winter approaches. For many this is a time when farmers begin to harvest. Once the harvest is complete is a time for celebrating and festivals.

In the past the success of the harvest was truly a matter of life or death for if the harvest was not successful then the people who depended on it would starve in the winter months. Therefore when all the wheat was finally in, and all the food crops were safely stored away, celebrations of thanksgiving and harvest festivals were very important events in a community. The Greeks gave thanks to the goddess Demeter and the Romans held a festival in honor of the goddess Ceres in October every year.

It is interesting to see how people around the world used to celebrate during the harvest season and what their traditions were. Some of their traditions have survived to the present day, while many have been lost. The harvest celebration that those famous pilgrims shared with their Native American neighbors in 1621 in New England was very similar to the ones held in England. Of course the food eaten at the New England thanksgiving was very different from what would have been served at a harvest feast in England.

This interesting and well written book explores harvest festivals and traditions of all kinds, including those of Native Americans, Jews, Indians, Celts, Romans, Greeks, English people, Chinese, and others. Readers will be able to see how many similarities there are between these celebrations and how very different peoples are therefore connected by their beliefs and by their connection to the seasons and the earth.