Ideas for educators to use in building a curriculum and promoting Harvest Eve.
What is Harvest Eve?
Harvest Eve is celebrated on October 31st as a positive alternative to Halloween. It is a time for children to learn more about their heritage and the cultures of others and for neighbors to be neighborly. Harvest Eve removes the negative images of Halloween and replaces them with new, positive traditions. Harvest Eve can can become a rich family and faith tradition for sharing stories of the past.
Do the children still dress up in costumes?
Yes. Instead of dressing up as characters of violence and death, they chose characters from history, or positive portrayals from fiction or fantasy. The child researches his character and writes a short summary. This summary is written on a "Character Card." When going door-to-door, it is given to the person handing out treats. It helps children identify with their characters better and therefore encourages parents to be more responsible in the selection of characters. It is a great learning experience for the entire family.
Is there more than just "trick-or-treating?"
Families need time together to share the stories of the past and their hopes for the future. "Around the Table" is designed to encourage family time in preparation for Thanksgiving. There are five times to gather around a certain theme: Remembering, Peace, Hope, Charity, and Love. The length of time spent sharing will depend on the ages of the children but should never be longer than is enjoyable. Tailor the experience to fit the values and priorities of your family and faith traditions.
A simple structure for family sharing time. It serves as a time of preparation for Thanksgiving.
Pop's Teasers are riddles written in the context of an fictional family, the Troy and Rosalie Corn family. They are intended to encourage creative thought, discussion and enjoyment. There are strong positive values communicated in the text as well.
This New Harvest Eve
Celebrate Your Heritage
On the last day of October as the wind begins to blow,
I look out my bedroom window in the early evening glow.
Thinking of the coming eve when I will soon become,
a knight from a land across the sea,
of justice, pride, and chivalry,
defend what's right and then I'll be,
rewarded by the king for a job well-done.
Celebrate my history,
Celebrate your history,
Celebrate our history,
On this new Harvest Eve.
Down the street, we see and greet, many new people on our way.
Some from a book, cartoon, or legend; others from a dramatic play.
I see an African princess, inventors, musicians and more!
A scientist and a movie star, and a soldier from a distant shore.
They each leave behind a note that tells their history.
We all have such great fun
and learn from everyone!
So when the evening is finally done,
we eat our gathered candy on this new Harvest Eve.
Celebrate my heritage,
Celebrate your heritage,
Celebrate our heritage,
On this new Harvest Eve.
The night is finally over and I lie upon my bed,
Memories of the Harvest Eve are dancing in my head,
Somehow I feel a part of the past and part of the future, too.
Harvest Eve, O Harvest Eve,
Celebrate our history
Weave together a tapestry,
The stories of our families,
A sense of our community,
So on this night I want to say,
"Happy Harvest Eve"
to you, and you, and you!
Bob Ayres, DMin
"This New Harvest Eve" is a poem designed to stir the imagination for characters.
As a child, Halloween was my favorite night of the year...
It was such a fun time of dressing up, getting candy, seeing friends and neighbors. When I became a parent, I was much more tuned in to the negative messages associated with Halloween especially connected to the occult and violence. We love family history so created a way for our children to enjoy to good things about Halloween without including the negative or controversial. In the early 1980s, I designed an alternative to Halloween and called it "Harvest Eve".
In many traditions, there is some sort of harvest festival associated with giving thanks and celebrating the abundance of the fields. Harvest Eve is loosely based on the ancient Hebrew festival of the "Feast of Booths" that is similar to our Thanksgiving. Some families may be interested in following the weekly structure for "Around the Table" in the weeks between Harvest Eve and Thanksgiving as a preparation of thankful hearts.
Harvest Eve is for everyone! It is a celebration of family, faith, and community. It is a good reason to dress up in fun costumes and walk around the neighborhood gathering candy. With all the things that we differ on as a society, there needs to be at least one night a year that we enjoy what brings us together.
Happy Harvest Eve!
The Rev. Dr. Bob Ayres