Here are Graham's thoughts:
is another one of the less well known festivals, a trait it shares with
Imbolc, which is opposite Lammas on the Wheel. It is usually thought of
as being on the first of August, but can also be celebrated any time
between the 31st of July and the 2nd of August. The word Lammas comes
from the Saxon words for Loaf Mass, hinting at the broad message of
this festival - it is the blessing of the first loaf, the beginning of
the harvest of cereal crops. Traditionally the first wheat would have
been cut at dawn, then winnowed and ground so that a symbolic first
loaf could be baked and shared among the community that evening. It is
interesting how resonant the idea of breaking and sharing bread is in
binding people together.
As well as having a range of dates,
this festival also has an alternative name, Lughnasedh, or Lughnasa
(pronounced “Loo-na-seth” or “Loo-na-sa”). In Celtic mythology, the
month of August was sacred to Lugh, the God of Light, and the name is
prevalent in Ireland. While it shares a lot of symbolism with Lammas
there is much academic debate as to whether there was a common,
pan-Celtic early August festival. It is probable that there was a
general early August celebration of the first harvest across the
ancient world. It was called Lughnasedh in Ireland and Lammas in Anglo
All that aside, this festival is a celebration of
first fruits. It is the beginning of the harvest. This would have been
the time of maximum effort and hard work in any rural community, and
was of vital importance. The work put in at Lammas, in gathering and
storing the harvest, would determine the survival or otherwise of the
community. It is no surprise then that many of the rituals involve
bringing everyone together, symbolically gathering the first of the
harvest and blessing the barns for storage. [More...]
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