Lammas, Lughnasadh (Loo-nah-sah), or Lughnasa is a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of the harvest season. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Now people celebrate this holiday all over the globe. Our ancestors over time left the location for other homes around the globe; luckily this practice has traveled with them and revived through the increase of participation and interest in pagan or neo-pagan belief systems.
Traditionally it is celebrated on August 1st of each year, or about halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox. However, in recent centuries some of the celebrations shifted to the Sundays nearest this date. This year (2018) it lands on a Wednesday. Lughnasadh is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Samhain, Imbolc and Beltane. It corresponds to other European harvest festivals such as the Welsh Gŵyl Awst and the English Lammas.
The Pagan God Lugh is who inspired the name for this festival holiday.
Lugh was unwanted by his grandfather and ripped from the arms of his mother, then flung into the ocean to die (which he overcame). His life was full of challenges before he entered the world. As a child he was educated on arts and swordsmanship. He was so accurate and had such a long reach that he was given the nickname, “Lugh of the Long Arm.”
This isn’t where his talents are limited; he’s multifaceted and skilled in a multitude of disciplines. Lugh was a master builder, a champion, a smith, a warrior, a harper, a magician, a poet, a physician, a cup-bearer and a brazier. In his world there was someone skilled in each topic of study but no one was a master of them all, which Lugh was. Lugh is told to be a great King that lead with conviction, strength, and balance.
To this day people worship Lugh’s energy or spirit and seek his guidance regarding their journey, advancement in wealth and prosperity, and inspiration to further carry on the arts.
Lammas Day in Scotland has long standing roots and traditions that are heralded still. This day heralded a new season of harvests and during the medieval times, Scotland called the feast the “Gule of August.”
The weeks before harvest was when communities found themselves the most strained in providing food and prosperity. Celebrating the God Lugh was a way of honoring him, keeping him in the forefront of our minds, and manifest happiness and prosperity to you, your family, and community.
Scotland has also recognized Lammas to be one of the four Scottish Quarter Days (a period of time where contracts could be terminated or renewed so servants could be hired or fired.
Author Margaret Bennett described the most ancient Lammas ritual in Scotland as the Burryman ritual, held in South Queensferry. In this, the Burryman walks the marches of the town, crowned with roses with a staff in each hand and a Scottish flag around his middle. He is accompanied by ‘two officials, led by a bell-ringer and chanting children who collect money (for luck).’
At the end of the twentieth century, just two Lammas Fairs remained – at St Andrews and Inverkeithing. Both are still held in the present day and include market stalls, food and drinks. In bygone days, a Lammas fair would have been a very lively fair with the hiring and firing of servants, the collecting of rental payments and the sale of livestock.
Lammas was also the other traditional time of year when couples could marry. Everyone is well aware that spring is a popular time to hand fast (marry), but in ancient Scotland August 1st was just as lucky.
August 1st is my Fiancé’s & my Anniversary (when we began our relationship) and luckily each year we get to celebrate the love and light of the world with Lugh. How do you celebrate the oncoming of Fall in your home? Do you have any traditions that follow along the same lines? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below & share this with your fellow nature lover.