In Britain, thanks have been given for successful harvests since pagan times. The Harvest Festival is traditionally held on the Sunday nearest the Harvest Moon.
The creation of bread figures, such as the wheat-sheaf shown here, was to ‘give thanks’ for an abundant grain harvest.
The celebrations on this day usually include singing hymns, praying, and decorating churches with baskets of fruit and food. In churches, chapels and schools people bring in food from the garden, the allotment or farm to create a community feast!
With ample food and freedom from the necessity to work in the fields, the two central features of harvest festivals, eating, merriment, contests, music and romance become the order of the day.
Following the sometimes days long celebrations, the collected foods are then distributed amongst the poor and senior citizens of the local community, or to raise funds for the church.
I tend to produce this design for Autumn functions. I make it from a soda bread dough to give ample time to work the finer details such as the mouse. A yeast dough would be limiting on time allowed due to the faster growth.
Once the festivities end, the wheatsheaf can be slowly dried in a warm cupboard until solid, then painted and kept as a plaque over the lintel of the doorway to ensure sustenance through the winter