Beginning at sundown on the eve of July 31st to sundown on August 1st
The Celtic Harvest Festival – Lughnasadh – also known as Lammas – is a harvest celebration beginning at sundown on the eve of the 31st of July until sundown on August 1st and derives its name from the Irish God Lugh. In Wales, this time is known simply as Gwl Awst, the August Feast. Lugh is associated with the power of sun and light, and so fires were burned in honor of Him on this day. In addition to His associations with light, Lugh is a God of Skill and Craft, a master of all human skills. On this His feast day, it is particularly appropriate that we celebrate our own abilities and skills.
“Celtic Festival of the first fruits and ripening corn “
Lugh dedicated this Celtic festival to his foster-mother, Tailtiu, the last queen of the Fir Bolg, who died from fatigue after working and clearing a great forest so that the land could be cultivated. When the men of Ireland gathered at her death-bed, she told them to hold funeral games and celebrations in her honor. As long as they were held, she prophesied Ireland would not be without song.
Lammas (was christianized as Lammas: the word ‘Lammas’ is an Old English word meaning ‘Loaf Mass’) celebrates the first harvesting of crops, the first of three harvest festivals. The Earth yields up Her first gifts to us … a blessing from the Mother and the product of our human hands. It is a time to celebrate the fruitfulness of the Earth and fruits of our labors. We have sown and nurtured, and now we are reaping the benefits in rhythm with the Earth. In later times, the festival of Lughnasadh, but in rural areas it was often remembered as “Bilberry Sunday,” the people would gather the earth’s freely-given gifts of black berries. As well people sang and danced jigs and reels to the music of melodeons, fiddles and flutes, and held uproarious sporting contests and races.
Corn, grains and berries are of particular significance at this holiday (see recipes below from corn, flour and grains). Traditionally, the newly harvested grain is made into bread to be shared with all in this celebration. Fruits and vegetables are ripe and ready for canning and preserving. We celebrate and partake in the fullness of the Earth while beginning to make provision for the cold months ahead.
This was also an occasion for handfasting and displaying of their skills and specialized crafts. Through the centuries, Ireland’s country-people have celebrated the harvest at revels, wakes and country fairs. Some still continue this festival today with an entertaining manner and it is usually celebrated on the nearest Sunday to August 1st, as so that a whole day could be set aside from work.
It is a time to ask ourselves: “What are my talents? What are my skills? How do I express my creativity? How do I use my abilities to re-craft my world … to add beauty …. color … richness? Our skills may include woodworking, designing, creating, sewing and needlecraft, art, music, dance, sports or communication, organizing, healing, parenting, problem solving etc. Whatever our talents or abilities, this is a time to recognize them and honor them, and to share our recognition of the talents and abilities of others around us. If you have had an interest or urge to develop a particular skill or creative outlet, now might be the time to make a pledge or commitment to yourself to pursue your interest. By offering the fruits of our labors back to the Universe we enrich both ourselves and our world.
Because Lughnasadh is a celebration of the new harvest, people cooked special ritual foods and festive meals. If you are curious about this historic celebration and the abundance of foods prepared, please search the internet. It is a wonderful time to celebrate the abundance we receive from mother earth and be with our special loved ones.
Lammastide was the traditional time when craft fairs and pageants were held. Long Summer evenings are beginning to get shorter.
In Ireland Lammas is traditionally a time for buying and selling, horse trading and music.
The ‘Oul Lammas Fair’, Ireland’s oldest traditional market fair, which takes place in Ballycastle, Co Antrim on the last Monday and Tuesday in August, attracts people in their thousands at festival time.
Saint Catherine was celebrated – ‘ The Catherine Wheel’ came from the Pagan rites when a wagon wheel would be tarred, set on fire and rolled down a hill – symbolizing the decline of the Sun God as the seasos wheel turns to Autumn Equinox. If the wheel went out before it reached the bottom – poor harvest, abundant if it remained lit.
St. Ciaran’s Well, Clonmacnois, County Meath – pilgrims go with torches at midnight on the first sunday in August – looking for a trout. The sun was believed to live in holy wells during the night.
Celts erected temporary hills to celebrate the harvest festival of Lammas. In Ireland a girl would be seated on the hill-top, garlanded with flowers and proclaimed the goddess of the hill. Celts would climb hills to pray to the gods and gather bilberries at Lammas.
The raising up of Celtic crosses onto stone steps recalls the Lammas tradition – Perrons – a type of man-made holy terraced mountain.
Making of the Corn Dolly from the best ears of corn taken from the last sheaf to be harvested.
This was usually kept hanging over the hearth to bring good luck, and the seeds were added to the new seeds in the Spring.
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