Lughnasadh or Lammas is the name used for one of the eight Sabbats in the Neopagan Wheel of the Year. It is the first of the three autumn harvest festivals, the other two being Mabon and Samhain. In the Northern Hemisphere it takes place around August 1st, while in the Southern Hemisphere it is celebrated around February 1st or 2nd. It is seen as one of the two most auspicious times for handfasting, the other being at Beltane. Some Pagans mark the holiday by baking a figure of the “corn god” in bread, and then symbolically sacrificing and eating it.
Lughnasadh is the name for the ancient Gaelic harvest celebration, which involved a grain offering being made to the deity by bringing it up to a high place and burying it. This was followed by a meal of billberries and the newly harvested food, most often in the form of bread, as well as the sacrifice and consumption of a sacred bull. Lughnasadh celebrations were often held on hilltops and included bonfires and dancing. The god Lugh is honoured at this time, as he is a deity of storms and lightning, especially the storms of late summer. Gentle rain on the day of the festival is seen as his presence and his bestowing of blessings, though I’m fairly sure that last night’s storm couldn’t be considered gentle 😉
Lammas is the Anglo –Saxon version of Lughnasadh and means loaf mass, clearly highlighting Christian influence on a traditional Pagan holiday. This festival celebrates the wheat harvest and traditionally a freshly baked loaf of bread was bought to the church and blessed. Afterwards it was broken into four pieces and placed in the corners of the grain storage facility to protect the harvest.
Although Autumn is not considered to begin until March 1st here in Australia, Lughnasdagh reminds us to enjoy the prosperity of late summer. It is the perfect time to get married (two of my siblings have wedding anniversaries in February), to bless and consecrate your tools, or to just have a party and celebrate the delicious abundance of the season.
Wishing you a successful and abundant harvest,