The word Lammas stems from the Anglo-Saxon word hlāfmaesse' meaning "loaf mass." It's a time to gather and give thanks to the bountiful Goddess of Grain or Grain Mother, also known as Earth Mother, Harvest Mother, and Harvest Queen, as the Wheel of the Year rotates into the Harvest Cycle.
Lammas celebrates the first of the harvesting cycles of the Wheel of the Year. It's the time that grain is harvested from the fields.
This includes wheat, oats, barley, and rye, in addition to corn.
Traditionally, both the first and last cuttings are celebrated.
The first sheaf, cut at dawn, is prepared and baked into Harvest bread to be shared amongst the community, while the first cut of the barley is made into the first beer of the season, also to be shared.
The last cut of the grain stalks are made into corn dollies - a Corn Maiden if harvest was good, a Corn Hag if not. The corn dolly can be decorated with flowers, ribbons, or fabric. She is revered, and in some places, ceremoniously carried through field or town.
Corn dollies generally are placed above the hearth of one's home. Later, they are burned so their ashes can be scattered into the fields. Corn dollies can also be placed outside in trees and left to rot, or ground to mix with seed for the next year's crop. However it is done, it's important to return the dolly back to the earth as a way to help the following year's harvest.
As with the majority of celebrations that have pagan roots, Lammas was modified by Christianity to be a Christian feast day known as Lammas Day or Loaf Mass Day. The Christian version celebrates the Holy Communion and the blessing of the harvest bread.
While Christians have made Lammas Day one of their holy days, they do not celebrate Lughnasadh.
Lughnasadh (LOO-nahs-ah) is a Gaelic holiday honoring Lugh, the Celtic god of light. The name combines Lugh and násad, which means gathering (Lugh's Gathering). It celebrates the offering of the First Fruits of the harvest. Celebrations include religious ceremonies, feasting, trading, matchmaking, and contests of sport that evolved from the Tailteann Games of Gaelic Ireland.
Variations of these celebrations are practiced today and may be combined with Lammas as both celebrate the first harvest. Many use the names interchangeably, but there are variances in each celebration.
Symbols of Lammas include: All grains, bread, scythe/sickle, sun wheels, and corn dollies. The full moon is also symbolic of the holiday and is within its most powerful period for Lammas 2020 as it occurs on August 3 this year.
Colors: Green, gold, orange, yellow, brown, and bronze.
Herbs & Flowers: Goldenrod, Marigold, Sunflower, Rosemary, Rose, Yarrow, Mint, Basil, Blackthorn, Clover, Heather, Ivy, Peony, Poppy, and Vervain.
Incense & Oils: Basil, Sandalwood, Rose, Rosemary, and Frankincense
Crystals & Stones: Citrine, Tiger's Eye, Golden Topaz, Yellow Aventurine, Obsidian, Peridot, and Lodestone.
When planning a celebration connected to a harvest festival, it's important to think of what you're celebrating and to give thanks to the earth. The three Harvest Celebrations on the Wheel of the Year are:
First - Lammas. Harvest of Grain.
Second - Mabon (around Autumnal Equinox). Harvest of Fruit.
Third - Samhain. Harvest of Nuts & Berries.
Celebrate the Lammas harvest with bread! Buy a harvest loaf or try making your own (no bread machine!) with this yummy recipe from Moody Moons.
Create a Lammas / Lughnasadh sacred space or altar with some of items listed above - or just pick or buy a bunch of appropriate flowers to decorate your table with.
Make a simple (easy) Corn Dolly.
Have a beer. Sometimes considered a nectar of the Gods, a good brew honors the harvest that brought it life. Buy something you enjoy or learn how to make your own. Also, look into the legend of John Barleycorn.
Wishing all a bountiful harvest and a blessed Lammas / Lughnasadh from the Holiday Chicks!
- Barbara 🙃
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