Often overlooked, Lughnasadh, or Lammas, is a Wheel of the Year holiday that occurs half-way between the Summer Solstice and the Fall Equinox. Considered the first of the three harvest festivals of fall, it occurs during the the summer in many areas, sometimes creating some confusion in how to truly celebrate.
So what are some ways to celebrate Lughnasadh.
What is Lughnasadh?
Lughnasadh, celebrated around August 1st in the Northern Hemisphere, is also known as Lughnasa, Lúnasa (modern Irish), Lùnastal (Scottish Gaelic), or Luanistyn (Manx Gealic) and celebrated historically in Gaelic countries of Ireland, Scottland, and the Isle of Mann. It would mark the beginning of the harvest season. It corresponds with other European harvest festivals like Lammas and Calan Awst. Celebrations included feasting, athletic competitions, fairs, and handfastings.
Adopted into the Neo-Pagan and Wiccan Wheel of the Year, it is sometimes referred to interchangeably as Lammas. Lammas, or "loaf-mass," is historically a much more Christian holiday where loaves of bread made from the first harvest of grains would be taken to the church to be blessed. Regardless, modern Wiccans and Neo-Pagans celebrate this holiday often with bread.
Lughnasadh is associated with the god Lugh and his foster-mother Tailtiu who had died after clearing the fields for planting. To honor her, Lugh hosted a funeral feast and funeral games of athletic competition, similar in ways to the Olympic Games.
Modern celebrations, whether sticking to historical celebrations or not, is often about gratitude. It is a time to begin harvesting some of what you have sown earlier in the year. It is a time to give back to the earth. It is a time of abundance.
Other Resources to Check Out
Lugh, Hermes, Baldr, Vulcan, Grain and Harvest Gods, Gods of Sacrifice, John Barleycorn
Tailtiu, Demeter, Terra Mater, Gaia, Grain and Harvest Goddesses
Roosters, Calves, Griffins, Phoenix, Centaurs, Pigs, Bees, Bears, Lions, Horses, Mice, Squirrels, Stags,
Symbols and Colors
Yellow, Orange, Gold, Green, Light Brown, Dark Purple, Tan
The Sun, Wheat Stalks, Pentagram, Corn, Gourds, Sickle or Scythe, Cauldron, Cornucopia, Sunflower, Sun Wheel, Candles
Food and Drink
Wheat / Grains / Bread, Corn on the Cob, Apples, Berries (great in jams, pies, or ice cream), Peaches, Pears, Squash / Zucchini, Tomatoes, Mead, Beer, Cider, Red Wine, Whiskey
Plants, Herbs, Incenses, Scents, etc.
Herbs: Rosemary, Cinnamon, Mint, Basil, Garlic
Plants, Flowers, and Trees: Sunflowers, Marigolds, Hydrangeas, Daisy, Dahlia, Zinnias, Yarrow, Roses, Honeysuckle, Oak tree, Apple tree
Incenses and Scents: Rose, Apple, Lavender, Cinnamon, Mint, Frankincense, Sandalwood, Coconut, Patchouli
Citrine, Quartz, Amber, Malachite, Carnelian, Aventurine, Garnet, Tiger’s Eye, Brass, Gold
Ways to Celebrate
Set Up Your Altar
Take some time this week to start setting up your altar. Gather items in any of the above correspondences that you are drawn to. Clean your altar. Cleanse if it feels appropriate. Place an altar cloth in an appropriate color. Cleanse the items to place on your altar and begin setting them where it feels right. Make adjustments as you add more items.
You may find it appropriate to lay out an offering too as you set things up. Maybe burn an appropriate scented incense. Play music that speaks to the season (there are plenty of playlists on YouTube and Spotify that are themed for each Wheel of the Year holiday).
When satisfied with your set up, document it. Take a picture and journal about your set up. You may decide you want to do something similar next year or something entirely different. Documenting can help you look back on things next year.
Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash
Host a Feast and Bake Bread
Gather some friends together and have a feast. This can be part of a larger celebration or just as a fun low-key get-together. Bake some fresh bread if you can. Since this holiday is often about giving thanks and celebrating the first harvest of grains, feasting on foods that are in season from a local farmer’s market would be ideal along with making fresh bread.
There are many excellent and easy to make bread recipes out on the internet these days. You could even bake up a nice frozen bread dough for something extra simple. Look back up at the correspondence list for other foods to try and include in a feast for this holiday. It is still summer (in the Northern Hemisphere), so any summer appropriate foods are great. Make it a pitch in to make things easier too.
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash
Have Your Own Summer Games
Historically, Lughnasadh consisted of a funeral feast and athletic games in honor of Tailtiu, similar in many ways to the Ancient Greek Olympics, so it may be fun to have your own version of the Summer Olympics with your friends and family. In combination with a feast, you can get a number of friends and family together to compete in various lawn games like cornhole, croquet, or horseshoes. Or if you have the space you could set up relay races and other fun games to play in your own yard.
Determine the games prior to people coming over. If you plan on having team games, you can have the selection process be based on drawing names out of a hat or preselected before the day. Consider getting prizes for competitors. Keep it fun and light and you may have a new tradition every year to celebrate for summer and Lughnasadh.
Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash
Make a Personal Sacrifice
Now, by sacrifice here we are referring more to a sacrifice of time or energy more so than anything else. Lughnasadh is a time of gratitude associated with deities that sacrificed themselves for others. Consider giving your time for volunteer work this year. Maybe a soup kitchen needs some help or perhaps you can sacrifice some of your time to cleaning up your local park or neighborhood.
You could even take a look at things in your life that you could do without but love. Maybe you can’t help but get that Starbucks everyday before work. Think about giving it up for a week or more. This sacrifice would be more about withholding something that is a luxury rather than a necessity. It could even be about avoiding binge watching some of your favorite shows on Netflix.
Whatever sacrifice you choose, whether a sacrifice of a luxury or of your personal time and energy to volunteer work, consider making it in honor of the deities or spirits you work with. Dedicate your sacrifice to the gods and or spirits and thank them for their aid in your life. This serves as a nice offering to them.
Do a House Blessing
Finally, consider spending some time blessing your home. Even if you blessed it in the past, taking time again to bless it would not hurt. Start out by doing a little physical cleaning and general energy cleansing of the home. Use appropriate herbs to cleanse and purify the whole space. Then gather your herbs and tools for blessing the home.
You can use some moon water, florida water, floor washes, blessing herbs and oils, etc. to incorporate into your house blessing. Incorporate all four elements if it seems appropriate. Say any appropriate prayers to solidify the blessing. At the end of your blessing, have some bread and apple cider or wine to encourage a new year full of health and happiness and so that no one living there ever goes hungry or thirsty.
Photo by Hemansu Tanty on Unsplash
As Lughnasagh, or Lammas, is just around the corner, start planning your celebration. Whether you like to celebrate solo with a simple altar or celebrating with a feast with friends, this Wheel of the Year holiday is a fun one.
Share with us on social media what your plans are.