You know I could get pretty snarky (or superior, or possibly both) that the British Harvest Festival transmuted into Thanksgiving in America.
The shared history is one of thanks to God for the harvest, although whilst in America it involves a sort of pre-Christmas Christmas with roast turkey and all the relatives round and booze and all that, here in the UK it has become a quiet affair.
Hey, we eat the turkey on Christmas day and finish it off on Boxing day and in our house the tradition on the 26th is cold turkey, egg and chips (fries) and the essential Branston pickle. After that we all pray to not even catch sight of a turkey for another two or three months. I think I'd still be off the idea come 25 December, if I'd had to cook or eat any the month before.
Harvest Festival is a religious thing acknowledged by churches and schools and still 'celebrated' in early September at roughly the time that the crops are all in. It lasts about half a day, involves some good hymns and filling a shoebox with tinned goods for the less fortunate. Each school or church will then visit old peoples' homes or the nominated homes of people living on benefits, and hand them a gaily (and usually badly) beribboned shoebox or the like filled with dry goods and, inevitably, the jar of something bizarre and exotic that sat at the back of someone else's cupboard for a year. You know, the sort of stuff that goes to raffle prizes the rest of the year. Pickled turkey. Never mind the actual humiliation of the knock on the door in the first place.
Still, instead of this burgeoning jealousy masquerading as pity (on account of all the work involved, see,) I am beginning to feel genuinely sorry for my American friends.
Shock, horror, disbelief and projected disappointment......no Christmas Crackers on the Christmas day dinner table?
No paper hats that either fall down over the eyes or rip as you try to force them to balance on your head?
No scraps of paper with inane rubbish printed on them, claiming to be a motto or a joke?
No awkward ten minutes as you take turns around the table to read the one you got, out loud, with everybody else obliged to fake jovial laughter like they'd never heard it before or found it witty or funny?
No tantrums amongst the kids when Uncle Fred reads his first and they've got exactly the same one and now its all spoiled?
No subtle positioning for favour, looking to avoid being the one who has to wait, arm extended in hope, for someone to pull the other end of their cracker?
No elbows in gravy as you try to reach the proffered hand?
No arguments or crawling round the carpet trying to find out whose plastic favour went where and whose is which?
No subtle negotiations and blackmail for favour swapsies all through pudding?
No row between Uncle Bertie for refusing to wear his green and orange crepe paper, crown shaped party hat and Aunty Gina who tells him he is always a miserable bloody old fart and he's spoiling it for the kids (who don't notice because they are still under the table hoarding lost favours and trying to hurt each other into giving up the best one?)
Bloody hell guys. Poor you.
You have NO IDEA what you're missing.