Grain Full: Wavering Grass Withers

December 1st, 2011
by Jo Law

In this pentad, we enter the final month of the year on the Gregorian calendar. Offically, Australia adopts the meterological reckoning that divides four seasons into 3-month periods, and defines summer, the hottest 3 months, as beginning on December 1st. Meanwhile, northern hemisphere temperate regions prepare for their coldest 3 month. On November 23rd, Japan celebrated its Labor Thanksgiving day (勤労感謝の日), a modern derivative of the older grain harvest festival, Niiname-sai (新嘗祭). The United States observed Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of the 11th month. This day is followed by ‘Black Friday’ that marks the start of the Christmas shopping season. Nolfolk Island, an Australian external territory situated in the Pacific, celebrated Thanksgiving, introduced by American whalers, on November 30th.

On the Australian mainland, the grain harvest underway on the East coast has been battling with wet weather, while the fruit picking season is threatened by the lack of backpackers (as labourers). At the University of Wollongong, teaching duties ended for the academic year, final marks released, and last meetings of the year conducted.

It seems to me that in our calendar we have no opportunity to give thanks to the labour of the past year. And too soon we will be hurled into the hectic festive season. We are in need of an equivalent to a labour thanksgiving: a pause that allows us to take a breath and review our year’s harvest. So I decided that a celebratory meal is in order. We invited Lucas, Lizzie and Albie May to observe our own labour thanksgiving, where sashimi, tempura, broadbean salad, pickled carrots, apricots and cherries were served and eaten.

2 Responses to “Grain Full: Wavering Grass Withers”

  1. 1 Lucas
    December 3rd, 2011 at 21:36

    thanks jo red and hollis for the completely delicious thanksgiving dinner!

    i had forgotten about how bewilderingly important thanksgiving is to americans. i only really know about it through the movies.

    The movie Planes Trains and Automobiles comes to mind when i consider the absurd lengths that they will go to to “return home by thanksgiving dinner time” in order to spend the evening with their families.

  2. 2 Jo Law
    December 3rd, 2011 at 22:15

    As the Japanese labour thanksgiving grew out of the grain harvest festival, friends and colleagues would be the most appropriate people to celebrate the harvest of past year’s effort!

    My grandfather told me once about a time when he and my grandmother spent Chinese New Year’s eve (the most important reunion dinner of the year) in a restaurant in Vancouver, where they used to live. They overheard the young man from the next table telling his parents the extraordinary lengths he went to in order to fly home and have that evening meal with them. Can you imagine how my grandparents felt, just the two them, without any of their children or grandchildren? It got me all choked up. I think it is great to still have occassions where it is imperative to return home even for just one meal – it might be more absurd not to have it.