Whether you call it Lammas, Lunasda, Lunasdal, Luanistyn, or the Gwyl Awst (Feast of Augustus,) Lughnasadh (pronounced LOO-nah-sah) is the first of three harvest celebrations celebrated in the Wheel of the Year. Originating in Ireland, Lughnasadh’s namesake Lugh, was a solar deity and harvest god. Celebrated on August 1st, Lughnasadh, or Lammas in England, represents the first harvests coming in in the garden and the field. Lammas, which comes from the Old English hlafmaesse, translates literally to “loaf-mass” which is why many Lammas celebrations incorporate the making and baking and breaking of bread as part of their ritual.
Lammas is a time for harvest, gratitude, and reflection. We are seeing the first fruits of our labors come to fruition in our gardens and Lammas allows us a moment to thank our deities, our world, and ourselves for the gifts of food and beauty we have around us. Late summer meadows are still dotted with daylilies and daisies, roses are putting forth their last perfumes and frippery, and berry bushes are sagging, abundant with fruit, ripe for the picking. Produce stands are starting to pop up like weeds on road sides and in parking lots, spilling over with cucumbers, zucchini, corn, berries, cherries, and peaches. During this time I like to stop and sit in silence for just a few moments during the quietest part of the day (which for me is about 2:30 in the afternoon) and enjoy the warmth of the sun, the sound of the crickets, the clucking of the chickens and the sound of children enjoy the dog days of summer. I like to watch the bees in the squash blossoms doing their important work. I like sit in the grass and feel the earth on my skin and the sun on my head the breeze in my hair.
This time can also be used to reflect on the past year and look forward to the months ahead. As the crops start to come in we should not only be enjoying them in their prime, but be preparing for the not too distant future, when fresh produce is not as readily available. Lammas is a wonderful time to begin thinking about preserving the harvest. Whether you dehydrate, cure, can, or freeze, the weeks following Lammas are when you are going to want to get started. Take some time to think about what you use most and how you can make the most of what is in season. Do you make spaghetti once a week? Perhaps you should plan to can your own sauce this year. Are you a toast and jam for breakfast person? Berry jams and jellies are of some of the easiest things to preserve and can really boost the spirit in February when you are looking at paying $4 for 10 raspberries from Peru.
This Lughnasadh or Lammas take a little time to celebrate, old world style. Spend some time in your garden, or for lack thereof, your local farmer’s market, picking up some seasonal produce. With your family, have a feast in your backyard or on your balcony, wherever you can connect with nature. Go on a berry picking adventure or make a corn craft. Bake some bread. Celebrate and reflect; count your blessings. And look ahead, for there is more work to be done.
Lughnasadh history and lore provided by Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials: Lughnasadh.
Lammas Celebration Ideas