Harvest Procession, 1909

I found evidence of a celebration of harvest in Blantyre , some 113 years ago.

I like the idea of thanksgiving or celebrating successful harvests and clearly this was important to many, especially in days gone by. The Salvation Army took a principal lead in celebrating this in Blantyre and there’s a good description of how they celebrated on the last Saturday in September 1909.

Credit for such a worthy, marvellous festival certainly went to the Salvation Army officers for organising the event and in particular to Mrs Liddell for all her efforts. Members of the Salvation Army dressed as harvesters and processed to march through the streets of Blantyre. Prominent in their display was a plough, made and provided by Mr James Lindsay and together with a representation of farmers using this plough up and down the streets, provided great interest and amusement throughout the town.

On returning to the hall at Forrest Street, a programme of events that evening took place going through the activities of ploughing, reaping and gathering in and concluding with the harvesters feast. Music was provided by the band with congratulations offered at the services the next day. On Monday evening, a weekend of harvest celebration concluded with the selling of flowers, fruits and vegetables to the general public, to the benefit of the Salvation Army and making the whole weekend, a financial and memorable success.

The Harvest Festival was an important event in the Christian calendar with a primary purpose of helping those in need. Certainly there is evidence that such festivals took place since pagan times. I’ve no idea if the Salvation Army still do this, but knowing how embedded traditions are within the organisation, suspect harvest still plays a part in their fundraising and charitable efforts. Knowing what a lot of fruit and veg gets grown locally in various community and private gardens, wouldn’t it be great to organise or visit such an annual festival giving access to excess harvest fruits and veg to those who need it?!

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