With Thanksgiving around the corner, it got us thinking about the origins of harvest festivals and how the celebrations included ceremonies, family get togethers, games and food, a lot like today. In Ireland, the pre-Christian traditional harvest festival was known as Lughnasadh (pronounced lu-na-se), named after the god of craftsmanship, Lugh. Of pagan origin, it marked the start of the harvest season, some time in August.
One of the few harvest celebrations to have remained to date, with links to Lughnasadh, is the Puck Fair in Co. Kerry. A tradition stretching back 400 years, it is a 3 day festival of storytelling, traditional music, horse fairs, street traders and a mountain goat is crowned King. The itinerary includes lots of family fun such as puppet shows and face painting.
Harvest festivals – it’s all about the food
From late Summer into Autumn, berries are in abundance and can be picked to make home made jams and preserves, a practice that is done less and less nowadays. Before the advent of the industrial era, humans relied on what nature provided and a bountiful harvest meant survival for families, unlike today where items are easily found in supermarkets.
Wild garlic, apples & nuts – the sight of nature’s provisions, with all their glorious colours, smells and tastes would have been a time for joy and celebration.
Of course the most well known harvest celebration is Thanksgiving in the US. Dating back to the early 17th century, it was originally only celebrated in New England by the pilgrims as a thanks for their first harvest.
Beginning in 1846, Sarah Josepha Hale wrote to five American presidents over 17 years, to advocate Thanksgiving as a national holiday in the American South. President Lincoln established a national holiday in 1863.
Traditional autumnal vegetables such as butternut squash & pumpkin are served with the main star of the show being the humble turkey. One of the nicest elements to the tradition of Thanksgiving is that it brings families and friends together.
Celebrating food with Shannon Princess
All of the harvest festivals throughout history have their own origins but the one thing they have in common is being thankful for nature’s harvest and commemorating this with a celebration of food.
Here on the Shannon Princess, we like to celebrate the joy of food with our guests, every day of their vacation. Our chef Olivia, brings healthy, organic, homegrown produce to life in a multitude of scrumptious dishes from breakfast time right through to dinner. If you would like to know more, visit our menu pages.
Our classic cruise brings guests to some of Ireland’s most traditional locations. From castles and christian settlements to historical cities such as Galway, there are lots of places to explore when we moor up. Once back on the water, the Irish scenery is beautiful and ever changing as we cruise along the River Shannon – a real feast for the eyes!
For our full list of excursions see our itinerary or contact us for further details. We look forward to welcoming you on board our luxury, boutique barge in 2016.
Happy Thanksgiving from all on board the Shannon Princess.