Welcome on a journey of discovery as we take you inside some of our favorite destinations, places and unique experiences around the world.
Around the World
As the days of summer fall farther behind us, the air turns crisp and the leaves change before our eyes and crunch under our feet – autumn is in full effect.
But what truly defines fall? Is it simply the autumn equinox? The holidays that follow, like Halloween and Thanksgiving? Or, is it an annual event that dates back hundreds, if not thousands of years – the fall harvest.
Devoted to celebrating the fruits of the past year’s labor, harvest festivals are synonymous with reflection, togetherness and appreciation for the world around us. Here are a few examples of different harvest festivals that take place around the globe.
Te Za (Yam Festival) – Ghana
In Ghana, the Ewe people take part in Te Za, an annual harvest festival celebrating the end of the rainy season and the cultivation of yams, a staple crop of the country. While the origin of yam cultivation in Ghana is unknown, oral history tells the story of a hunter who went on an expedition during a famine and discovered a yam in the forest. Instead of bringing it back to the village, he decided to hide it in the soil. When he returned, the yam had germinated and grown, starting yam cultivation in the country. Highlighted by feasts, dances, parades and, you guessed it, consuming yams, Te Za acts as a time to offer prayers for good health and prosperity for all.
Olivagando – Magione, Italy
In Europe, Italy has its own harvest festival, known as “Olivagando.” A celebration of la dolce goccia or “the sweet drop,” Olivagando observes the importance and cultural impact of olive oil. During this two-day festival, oil mills, olive growers, companies and connoisseurs come together to sample and celebrate the production and consumption of olive oil across Italy – as well as enjoy an array of delightful Italian treats, including wine, cheese, cured meats, truffles, walnuts and chestnuts.
Lammas – United Kingdom
Taking place on August 1, a bit earlier than other harvest festivals, Lammas marks the beginning of the harvest season in the United Kingdom and is characterized by the baking of countless loaves of bread. Derived from the Anglo-Saxon word, “loaf-mass”, Lammas marks the blessing of the First Fruits of the harvest.
Thanksgiving – Massachusetts, US
Traditionally associated with meals of roasted turkey, bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and pumpkin pie, the origins of Thanksgiving date back to 1621. After a brutal winter wiped out nearly half of the Pilgrim population, a grand feast took place in late September, following the first harvest in the new world. This event, commonly referred to as “The First Thanksgiving,” took place over the course of three days and saw peace and unity between the Pilgrims and the native Wampanoag population.
While Thanksgiving celebrations took place annually (even President Lincoln declared November 26 as a national day of thanksgiving), it wasn’t until nearly 220 years later when Franklin D. Roosevelt designated the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.
An annual expression of gratitude and a day of togetherness, Thanksgiving has evolved since its inception, but the core values of peace and appreciation for those around us hold true to this day and define Thanksgiving as a quintessential American holiday.
Stories From The Road
From our guests’ Oktoberfest celebrations to our Tauck Director Gloria Swanson Ream’s experience as a fall foliage guide, the stories shared from the road are testament to the endless joys of travel in some of the world’s best destinations.
Oktoberfest in… September?!
Dating back to the early 19th-century, Oktoberfest originated as a celebration of the marriage between King Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Held in the nearby fields outside of Munich, the newlyweds were celebrated with horse races, musical and theatrical performances, a parade, and beer and wine tastings – and thus, what we know today as Oktoberfest was born.
But that begs the question? Why does Oktoberfest take place in September? The answer is quite simple. The days in September are warmer and longer compared to October.
Now an annual tradition, Oktoberfest continues to feature many of the same activities present in that original celebration over 200 years ago and continues to be a highlight of our “Autumn Along the Rhine… Munich’s Oktoberfest” river cruise. Your time at Oktoberfest is filled with traditional Bavarian fare, live folk music, delicious (and refreshing) cold beer and the donning of traditional German attire – the lederhosen and dirndl.
A Tour Director’s love for Autumn
For 37 years, Tauck Director Gloria Swanson Ream has been guiding tours for Tauck, with a particular love for her expeditions across New England in autumn. She was recently featured in an article on NewEngland.com. You can read it in its entirety here.
Did You Know?
Tauck’s Busiest Week of the Year
Late last month, during the week of September 17 through September 23, Tauck had our busiest week of the year. Across 6 continents, 50 countries, 29 states and 7 Canadian provinces, there were more guests traveling the globe with us that week – by land, river, sea and train – than any other week of the year.
In The News
Take a look at some of our destinations, exclusive experiences, and our worldwide travel partners in the news this month.
Marrakech: Bruised but Not Broken
Kelly Rossiter, the Senior Tour Architect who designs and manages our tours in Africa, including the “Magic of Morocco” tour, shares her firsthand experiences and photos – along with two ways you can donate to help – following the tragic earthquake that impacted Morocco early last month.
A Haunting in Venice
Released on September 15, A Haunting in Venice is a sequel to the 2022 film, Death on the Nile. Following the events of the previous film, A Haunting in Venice follows detective Hercule Poirot as he attends a séance at the home of a famed opera singer. The meeting turns dark as one of the guests is murdered and Poirot is thrust into a world of deception, lies and sinister secrets. Filming took place across Venice at many locations you can see on your journeys with Tauck including the Grand Canal.