There are many ways in which the annual landmarks of the Australian and British calendars are similar.
Some dates like Christmas and Easter are obviously exactly the same (albeit falling in different seasons), whereas other dates such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day rather confusingly fall at completely different times of year.
(Tricky if you are trying to remember the correct date on the other side for the world without the benefit of blanket advertising to jog your memory).
However, there is one annual event that had been completely out-of-mind for a long, long time that came bursting back onto my radar recently. The Autumn Harvest Festival.
The Harvest Festival is something I still remember from my school days. A time when we got to give thanks for nature and for the (recently reaped) harvest.
It was a simple and joyous celebration that used to be widespread across the country, especially amongst junior school kids.
I’m not sure quite how widespread it is now, although I do have a (hopefully unfounded) hunch that it in certain schools it may have been sacrificed at the altar of political correctness along with Christmas cards and sports where someone actually wins.
However, there were no such concerns earlier this week as proud parents packed into Southover Church in Lewes to see their mini offspring take part in this year’s ceremony.
It was a touching occasion, seeing the joy of the kids as they wore recently created nature-themed costumes, sang lustily (albeit out of tune), before the chosen few got to approach the altar with their gifts, staggering under the weight of large pumpkins, cauliflowers and marrows.
The service also contained an address/sermon by the vicar, which was aimed at the children, but had relevance to the adults. Well, to this one anyway.
He drew attention to the beautiful colours of nature, especially at this time of year – the golden fields of corn, the reds, greens, purples and oranges of the produce and the spectacular colours of the autumn leaves.
He encouraged the kids (and me) not to take all this for granted but to open their eyes and look around them to recognise and appreciate the true beauty and wonder of the nature that surrounds us. Especially in this little corner of the world.
To look at the familiar through fresh eyes.
Which is pretty much what I have been doing from the day I landed back in England.