Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh pronounced “Loo-Nasa”, is celebrated at the end of July/beginning of August. It’s a celebration of the first fruits and the first harvest of grain.
Lammas is a Saxon word meaning “Loaf-mass” and was originally a celebration after all the hard work of cutting, threshing, storing, and stacking the grain. Earlier Saxon names for this time of year include “Hlaf-Maesse” which translates as bread for “Hlaf” and feast for “Maesse”, giving us the “Feast of Bread”.
Lugh is a sun God and ‘nasahd’ is a Gaelic word meaning “assembly”. This was a time when people came together for summer fairs and played athletic games, giving us a translation for Lughnasadh of “Sun God Games”.
On Lammas eve, fires would be lit to honour the Corn Mother and her harvest child – the grain.
There are lots of customs and traditions to honour the first and last sheaf of corn to be cut. Often these are plaited into a corn maiden, corn baby or a corn old woman, decorated with ribbons of red, gold and orange, and hung over the fireplace.
The traditional date for Lammas is 2nd August, although celebrations and feasts can be weeks before or after once the grain was safely harvested.
Lammas represents a change in seasonal energy. Sometimes it feels like summer will last forever, but we know that the peak of the summer has passed, and the daylight hours are slowly becoming shorter. As the first fruit ripens and crops are harvested, we need to plan for the Winter. This is a time to celebrate the remaining sunshine and abundance all around us. It’s also a time to gather what can be saved and planted next year.
In the Northern Hemisphere, this is a wonderful time of year. The days are warm and long and this year we have been blessed with some beautiful sunny days. It’s a time to be outside, meet up with friends, have a summer barbeque or picnic (a must on every sunny day in England as you never know when it will rain and when it will be sunny again), and simply take time to relax and enjoy being outside.
To honour this time of year, reflect on how the year has gone so far for you. In the Spring we planted the seeds of our desires. What goals did you set? Have you achieved them? What have you manifested so far this year? Now is the time to reap what we have sown. Give thanks for all the rewards you are harvesting and how you can use them in the future.
How to celebrate:
Traditional Lammas Fairs were about coming together as a community. What can you do to help your community?
Light a Lammas fire, a fire pit, or even a candle and reflect on the year so far.
Bake bread or biscuits and give thanks for the harvest and abundance all around.
Feast and party with friends, anywhere outside to make the most of the sun.
Weave a corn dolly from wheat, dry long grass, or reed– as you weave focus on the harvest of the Earth. Weave in flowers, herbs, and ribbons of red, orange and gold.
Or make a plait of wheat (or dry grass or reed), whilst focussing on your own personal harvest and everything you are grateful for.
Make the most of the light and finish any projects, especially any outdoor projects, you began this summer.
Take a walk in nature and notice how the Earth is changing – the ripening fruit and the grain being harvested.
However, you decide to celebrate make the most of the summer weather and give thanks for the food you eat.