Celebrating Lammas/Lughnasadh, the year’s grain harvest and the cycle of life and death.
One of the few holidays or festivals that is celebrated across cultures and religions is Lammas otherwise known as Lughnasadh. For early Christians, and pagans, it’s the very first harvest festival of the year. For Celtics and other Neopagans, the holiday gives honor to Lugh who is the sun god. For early Sumerians, it is linked with the story of gods Dumuzid and Inanna and about grains association with the cycle of life and death. And with Greek mythology, it features the love story of grain god Adonis. The Lammas or Lughnasadh festival is celebrated annually on August 1.
Celebrating the start of the harvest seasonPagans have three harvest festivals held during autumn; Lughnasadh, Mabon and Samhain. The first harvest festival marks the beginning of autumn and also the eventual weakening of the sun’s light and heat. It’s the time of the year to harvest the fruits of the crops planted last spring and summer and new seeds will have to be collected for next year.
For early Christians and in the Anglo-Saxon tradition, Lammas is the festival of wheat harvest and feast of bread. The bread baked from the newly harvested wheat is brought to the church for blessings. There’s also a tradition among tenants to offer the first fruits of crops and trees to their landlords on the first day of August.
Honoring the Celtic god LughSome Wiccans or neopagans celebrate the holiday to honor the sun god Lugh who is also a craftsman god. Lughnasadh literally means funeral games. And the holiday itself commemorates the funeral games Lugh organized to honor the death of his mother Tailte. Pagans believe that the sun god starts to enter old age and losses his strength from this day making daylights shorter and night hours longer. On the other hand, Lugh is a craftsman god so arts and crafts are also a highlight of the festivity.
Significance of the festivity
Although fewer groups and communities today are celebrating the holiday, its symbolic significance has never dwindled. In the past, farmers had to render back-breaking work and often have to rely on nature or even luck just to have a good harvest capable of feeding communities for the entire year ahead. Lammas is a way of remembering the past agricultural hardships and innovations. It’s a time to give thanks to nature which constantly gives food to its inhabitants. Fresh produce and other food items may now be readily accessible through the various groceries and supermarkets compared before, but still, such goods are essentially fruits of hard labor.
— Eleanor Parker (@ClerkofOxford) August 1, 2016
Feasting and general merrymaking through songs, arts and crafts are observed by many Wiccans or pagans today. Certain communities still bring their bread and harvests to church for blessings. Many believed that placing pieces of bread around the corners of the barn will ensure a good harvest for next year. Some also decorate their homes using fresh produce and farming tools. Others hold events showcase individual talents on this day.
Happy Lammas, pagans and witches of the Internet! It's our first harvest festival, the late summer one.
— Andrea Lambert (@AndreaLamber) August 1, 2016
— Frank Jamger (@FrankJ1232) August 1, 2016
- World Religion News – “Preparing for the Celebration of Mabon Harvest and Feast”
- World Religion News – “These 5 Things About Samhain are Actually Myths”
- Crystal Links – “Dumuzid”
- Crystal Links – “Inanna”
- Wikipedia – “Adonis”
- Wikipedia – “Tailte”