Lughnasadh

The First of the three harvest festivals is the holy day of the first grains. This holiday is to honor and give thanks for the harvest, ready at this time, primarily grains (corn, wheat, barley etc) and other early vegetables like squash and cucumbers. The Irish Celts celebrated Lugh (the Shining One) who is the God of many skills in the Tuatha de Danann. He is also the God of harvest, fire, light and metallurgy and the protection of the weak and ill. It is from him that the harvest was named. Much of the customs we use today are derived from the festival of Lugh. Lugh was the consort of Dana, the Mother Goddess of Ireland, and though the celebration is focus on him, she is also greatly revered and honored.

Other regions of Europe (and North America) celebrated the grain festivals with similar dedications and festivities. North American natives honored the Corn Grandmother at the Festival of the Green Corn. (Corn is native to America and was introduced to Europe and the Mediterranean in the 16th century when it became a staple food – along with the potato.) The Romans honored Ceres, the grain goddess at Ceresalia and Vulcan the god of the forge and guardian of the fire. The birth of the Egyptian Sun Goddess, Isis, was celebrated; the Phoenicians honored their grain God, Dagon.

Other names of the Sabbat are First Harvest, August Eve and Lammas (the Anglo-Saxon term most commonly used). Some customs among the rites were to sacrifice only grains and vegetables – not animals (though some did). The fields were laden with harvest to come so thanks was given to the Gods. Some were thrown on fields to induce more bounty. The grains and vegetables that are ready at this time were also used in magic and fertility spells. Cakes and breads from the harvested grains were made and offered as libations to the Gods and consumed.

Customs and Traditions

The holiday is often accompanied by these traditions:

  • Baking bread in the form of people or livestock such as cows or goats. These are offered to the Kindreds and shared with the folk.
  • Harvest doll or Lammas Lass made from grain stocks and other leafy materials.
  • A feast featuring bread, squash and cucumbers (along with other recently harvested veggies).
  • Competitions and athletic games to celebrate and re-enact Lugh's mother's funeral. These are usually fun rather than challenging.
  • Drink beers and other grain-based alcoholic beverages.
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