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Lammas and lughnasadh both fall on the same day in August. Roughly the midpoint between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox within the northern hemisphere. Their celebrations are intertwined, with one or the other always found on the wheel of the year.
Lughnasadh is one of the four gaelic seasonal festivals, with samhain, imbolc and beltane. Named after Lugh, the sun god, who was raised by the harvest goddess Tailtiu. Tailtiu is said to have died of exhaustion after clearing the fields of Ireland for agricultural planting. Lugh wanted to honour the woman who had raised him and held a great harvest funeral feast known as lughnasadh.
As Christianity advanced through Europe, many pagan practices were outlawed, which likely included the festival of lughnasadh. However, the first harvest was still acknowledged as lammas. Lammas was traditionally celebrated in England, with the word coming from an old english phrase meaning ‘loaf mass’ when the early english church celebrated the harvesting of the first grain by consecrating loaves made from it.
Nowadays, lammas and lughnasadh are celebrated by people in various areas around the world. Some celebrations differ from our ancestors since we don’t live as closely with the land as they did. But there are still plenty of ways that we can honour the abundance gifted to us by mother earth. Below you will find our top five ways to enjoy this day.
With both of the above festivities associated with the start of harvest, this is a time for gathering. So if you have a homegrown vegetable patch, take time today to pick ripened foods. If not, visit your nearest pick-your-own farm and see what they offer. Or even visit a local farmers market and see what goodies they have amassed ready to delight you. While picking or hunting for wondrously fresh foods, think of what kind of feast you could produce with all the seasonal fruits and vegetables available.
Once again, these harvest festivals celebrate reaping the first grains of the year, and lammas is all about the bread. So find a loaf recipe that appeals to you and give it a go. It can be as simple or as difficult as you like. Remember to practice mindfulness when making your loaf, and enjoy working with your hands. Enjoy the resting time, sit with a comforting non-alcoholic drink and enjoy time to pause and reflect on the year so far. Take in the smell of freshly baked bread and the enjoyment it conjures up.
Take a walk along the edge of farm fields and look out for leftover stalks of wheat, barley or rye once harvesting has taken place. If these are unavailable, any long and strong grass can be used or even shop-purchased raffia. You can make your corn doll as extravagant or simple as you wish. There are many excellent tutorials on youtube if you are looking for a more professional finish. Or you can just tie your corn doll into shape using coloured strings and ribbons for a more crude and primitive look. Whichever you choose, we are sure you will enjoy having a go at this craft.
Choose an area in your home where you can find some quiet enjoyment, time to relax, reminisce and plan for the coming seasons to situate your altar. If using an altar cloth, colours of the sun yellows, oranges and reds are ideal, as are the fertile earth colours of green and brown. Once you have the base of your altar ready, you can begin layering it with items that speak to you. Below is a printable list of decoration ideas (click on the picture to print).
Remember, wherever you set up your altar and however you choose to decorate it, have fun. Your altar is personal to you, and with the onset of harvest, it should encourage feelings of abundance.
This is the perfect time to hold a feast, whether it is a small intimate one with close friends and family or a larger event. Lughnasadh is the time of the funeral feast, honouring Tailtiu, while lammas is the time for celebrating bread and harvesting the first grains. Begin by dressing your table with yellow, orange and red linens, vases of flowers, fruits and corn.
Follow this up with an abundant feast of seasonal foods that you have harvested or collected. Include different breads, foraged berries, and freshly picked vegetables. Whatever you choose to serve, enjoy yourself and relish this moment spent with family and friends.
For more information on festivities and celebrations, look at our blog. And don’t forget to check out our blog on samhain. If you are looking for a gift, look at our shop for ideas like this wonderful citrine tree. Finally, tag us @surrender_to_happiness on Instagram with all your celebration pictures.