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Autumn History and Traditions
The History of Autumn Symbols and Fall Traditions
We refer to most seasons by the names that were commonly used by our ancestors. Winter is from the German word meaning a "time of water" highlighting the seasons rain and snowfall. Spring comes from the Old English word "sprying" as it refers to the creation of a spring due to the melting snow and ice left from winter.
The word autumn comes from the original Latin word "autumnus". The alternate term, fall, originated with the Germans but became commonplace with the mid16th century English who typically referred to fall as meaning "the fall of the leaves." Here's a look at some common symbols and traditions associated with Fall or Autumn...
Scarecrows are found in some form, in almost every culture around the world. Traditionally they are made in the shape of a man with his arms held outstretched, the scarecrow is dressed up in old clothes and hung high above a farmer's crops to frighten away crows and other would-be scavengers.
The earliest known record of "straw men" comes from Japan in 712, where they were known as the "kuebiko". These omniscient god-like creatures had no bones and because of their crippled form were propped on poles to watch over and protect the villagers.
Charming, colorfully decorated scarecrow ready and waiting for the Harvest Festival to begin.
Pick your Favorite Fall Symbol
What is Your Favorite Autumn Symbol?
Cornucopia or Horn-of-Plenty
The cornucopia is a time-honored symbol of abundance and has come to be associated with Thanksgiving, but in reality this image has been around much longer then our traditional Thanksgiving holiday.
The word "cornucopia" actually dates back to the 5th century BC. It derives from two Latin words: "cornu," meaning horn; stemming from the mythological one horned unicorn and "copia," meaning copious or plenty. Thus, "cornucopia" literally means the horn of plenty, and the names are used interchangeably.. In ancient times it was typically represented as a curved goat's horn overflowing with the harvest seasons fruits and grains.
Image: Microsoft word
Chrysanthemum and the Dragonfly
Japanese Symbols for Autumn
The Japanese consider chrysanthemums symbolic of integrity and endurance and as such, it eventually became a common representation of the autumn harvest season.
The dragonfly signifies victory and martial success. It is also a symbol of summer's end and autumn's arrival.
Image: Microsoft word
Ring in the season with this charming dragonfly windchime
Autumn Harvest Festivals
Traditions Celebrated Around The World
Annual harvest festivals and thanksgiving celebrations were historically held in ancient Greece, the Roman empire, in China and most recently in America.
In ancient times, farmers believed that their crops were controlled by spirits which could bless the crops to grow or curse them to die. It was thought these spirits were only released and destroyed when the crops were harvested. Some of the earliest harvest festivals celebrated the defeat of these spirits.
The ancient Greeks worshiped the fertility goddess, Demeter as the protector of the harvest. Each autumn she was honored at the festival of Thesmosphoriam where on the third day of the celebration, a feast was held and offerings of corn, cakes, fruit, and pigs were made In the hope that her gratitude would grant them a good harvest.
The Romans also celebrated a harvest festival and feast every October 4th called Cerelia, which honored Ceres (from which the word cereal comes) their goddess of grains. The first fruits of the harvest were given as gifts to Ceres.
Each year with the full moon that falls on the 15th day of the 8th month, the Chinese celebrate their mid-autumn moon festival, "Chung Ch'ui". This is considered to be the moon's birthday. Round, yellow "moon cakes" are baked and stamped with rabbits because according to ancient Chinese legend it is a rabbit that is seen on the face of the moon.. It is said that during the 3 day festival, a bounty of flowers falls from the moon and those who see them will be rewarded with good fortune throughout the year.
The United States
In 1621, after a harsh, long, hard first year, pilgrim's who had settled in the new world finally reaped a bountiful fall harvest. With enough fruits, corn, vegetables, and cured meat stockpiled to last throughout the coming winter., the Governor proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.
This tradition of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued throughout the years and in 1863 President Abraham Lincoln officially made it a national holiday.