The festival of Lughnasadh is celebrated in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. In Wales a similar festival of Calan Awst is celebrated and in England it is known as Lammas. It is held halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox, around 1st August. This beautiful festival celebrates the beginning of the harvest season, marking the closing of one growing season and the safeguarding of another through the winter.
'Lammas' means 'loaf-mass', for this was the day on which loaves of bread were baked to celebrate a good harvest. As bread was one of the main staples of our ancestors, the ripening of the grain was the cause for great celebration to ensure a healthy bounty for the following year. The grain was ground between two stones, moistened with water and then shaped it into a loaf before being baked.
The celebration and honouring of these themes was fundamental to the fabric of our ancestors' lives and it is wonderful when we too can celebrate this festival with the same inspiration and energy. Whether you celebrate by harvesting the vegetables in your garden, by baking bread, or taking this time to make changes to your nature table, Lammas and Autumn have arrived and another season has turned.
Here are a few ideas of how you could create your own ceremony for honouring the passing of the light and the reaping of the grain.
If you have a river or pond nearby, bless it with your own blessing and float flowers on its surface.
Take unwanted things (such as bad habits and regrets) from your life by throwing symbols of them into a fire. Lammas is a festival of regrets and farewells, of harvest and preserves. You can reflect on these topics in your journal or share them with others around a fire. Think of the things you meant to do this summer or this year that are not coming to fruition and let them go. What is passing from your life? What is over? Say good-bye to it.
Bake a loaf of bread and make it a part of your feast. You could make all sorts of shapes to celebrate the season - a man or woman harvester, a mouse or a beautiful plait. Some families feed each other hunks of bread, putting the food in the other person's mouth with words like "May you never go hungry," "May you always be nourished," "Eat of the bread of life".
Harvest the fruits or vegetables from your garden or allotment.and share them with others. If you don't have a garden, visit one of the pick-your-own farms in your area or support your local farmers market, and thank the farmers who have brought you these wonderful fruits and vegetables.
Go blackberry picking!
Make corn dollies from the straw. This is a fun project to do with children. Take dried-out corn husks and tie them together in the shape of a woman. As you work on her, think about what you harvested this year. Give your corn dolly a name and a special place in your house. She is all yours till the spring when you will plant her with the new corn, returning to the Earth that which She has given to you.
Pick sunflowers and decorate your home
A nature table: Collect treasures from nature and decorate your nature table with fresh vegetables & fruits, grains, berries, corn dollies, bread.
The traditional Lammas colours are orange, gold, yellow, red and bronze.