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A festival is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centering on some characteristic aspect of that community and its religion or cultures. It is often marked as a local or national holiday , mela, or eid. Next to religion and folklore , a significant origin is agricultural. Food is such a vital resource that many festivals are associated with harvest time . Religious commemoration and thanksgiving for good harvests are blended in events that take place in autumn , such as Halloween in the northern hemisphere and Easter in the southern. Festivals often serve to fulfill specific communal purposes, especially in regard to commemoration or thanksgiving . The celebrations offer a sense of belonging for religious, social , or geographical groups, contributing to group cohesiveness. They may also provide entertainment , which was particularly important to local communities before the advent of mass -produced entertainment . Festivals that focus on cultural or ethnic topics also seek to inform community members of their traditions ; the involvement of elders sharing stories and experience provides a means for unity among families. In Ancient Greece and Rome , festivals such as the Saturnalia were closely associated with social organisation and political processes as well as religion .