Song of harvest home is still a key school festival

17th October 2008 at 01:00

For decades many children in Wales celebrated the annual harvest festival by preparing boxes of fruit, vegetables and tinned soup to take into school. They then delivered the parcels to delighted and grateful pensioners in the local community.

But TES Cymru has learnt the tradition is dying out - teachers are more likely to ask for cash donations to send straight to charity.

At Shirenewton Primary in Monmouthshire, pupils are taught about the harvest's religious roots, but in an eco-friendly way.

Head Jane Edwards said this links strongly with sustainable development in the curriculum, but there is also a moral message that teachers hope to get across.

"We celebrate the abundance of the food we have and remember that we are luckier than most. It's a chance to think about the food and where it comes from."

The festival, which has been celebrated in the UK since pagan times, marks the end of harvest and gives thanks for the food that has been collected.

During a special assembly attended by a local priest, Shirenewton pupils bring in fresh food which is sold to their parents. The money raised is sent to a particular charity. This year pupils and teachers have chosen an African development organisation.

At Romilly Primary School in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, children are being encouraged to bring in money instead of the traditional fruit, which is being donated to a local charity.

But at church schools, the harvest remains a key festival in the religious calendar.

Pupils at St Mary's Church in Wales School in Wrexham attend a church ceremony together with their parents.

Head Berwyn Thomas said the service, which is led by Year 6 pupils, is very traditional. This year Year 5 pupils were taught to bake a loaf of bread in the shape of sheaf of corn, while younger children read poems and sing songs.

Pupils are also encouraged to bring in non-perishable tins and boxes of cereal, which are donated to a local charity.

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