When Americans sit down to Thanksgiving dinner each year, they are participating in a kind of celebration found in almost every society in the world. All peoples find a way to give thanks when they have finished gathering the harvest. The growing season is over, and there is a sense of gratitude that the earth has once again provided grains, vegetables, and fruits. Festivals devoted to particular crops, such as the Irish strawberry festival shown at right, are an example of festivals of harvest. Long ago, the ancient Hebrews celebrated a fall thanksgiving, a holiday called Shavuoth that Jews today still celebrate. As early as the Shang dynasty, harvest gods were worshipped in China (right). An important part of harvest festivities in many Buddhist countries is a sacred performance relating an episode in the life of the Buddha. Other Buddhist countries celebrate harvest festivals as part of a New Year’s celebration. Among the early American Indians, there were many rituals of planting and harvest (right). A mythological figure called the Corn Mother was believed by some tribes of North America to have brought maize to the earth. Although the forms of festivals differ from place to place, the importance of the land is the same for people all over the world.