Lammas is celebrated on August 1st, and it’s a time to honor the community and the harvest. It’s also an opportune time to celebrate the waning of summer and to make plans for winter. Lammas is mentioned in many myths and folktales around the world, including Welsh tales where people were said to "fatten their lambs" for slaughter during this holiday. We can use this day as a chance to reflect on what we have going on in our lives, how we are feeling, what changes we want to make, and what we want. Here are some ways you can make the most of Lammas!
What is Lammas?
Lammas means "festival of the moles" and is the first harvest festival of the year. The first harvest was already done, and it marked the end of the "lean" season, also known as the time of year when crops begin to grow and prices are low. To celebrate, people would create games, feast on food, and invite one of their neighbors over to play a party game, such as setting an egg afire in an oven, spinning, and weaving. There are even some modern festival games associated with this day, like volleyball and sack races. Folktales tell of elves or pagans who sometimes performed rituals during this time, and all of these activities are associated with hollus, which is a type of ritual done during Lammas to thank the farmer for his hard work during the growing season.
Celebrating the last harvest
Start the day by going to your local farmer’s market and pick up some fruits, vegetables, and meats to feed your family. If you don’t have a local farmer’s market, order from a local farmer to get the freshest products possible. Also, visit your local bakery or supermarket and buy any boxed items that you don’t want to waste food on. Did you know that our current weather pattern may bring forth some early berries? If you grow an apple tree, then now is the time to harvest the fruits. Most of the fruits and vegetables you can harvest from your garden will be ready to eat within about a month. Set aside some time to get creative and do some cooking that will keep your family healthy during these cold months.
Make Plans for Winter
Maybe you’ve been meaning to trim your shrubbery, or maybe you just want to check your firewood supply, or you want to move something around in your yard. As this is the last sunny day of summer, and there will be very little sunlight in the coming days, this is the perfect time to make plans for your winter weather plans. What kind of clothes should you pack away for the cooler weather? Do you have a costume you want to wear? Are you going to work on your yard to get it ready for winter? Make a list of items you want to take care of over the next few weeks, so you can cross them off as they are completed. One of the best things about Lammas is that it marks the beginning of a new moon in Virgo, a time to rest and recharge.
Rites and Rituals
It's an important time of year to honor and respect the past and the new life that's been produced. Depending on the traditions of your area, this can include "smearing" yourself with the word "clean" or smearing a symbol of your devotion or blessings on the ground. There are many symbolic ways you can observe Lammas. Some could include decorating with symbols of the harvest, making a meal to bless your harvest, lighting a bonfire to burn excess energy, and donating food to those in need. Some traditions involve attending a celebration, such as a full moon celebration or a harvest feast.
Food and Drink
You can celebrate Lammas with a delicious meal. The meal is based around the autumn harvest. This means you can eat foods such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, fresh corn, stewed squash and turnips, and fresh peas. Dinner is always more interesting when you add several new vegetables and grains.
Activities and Games
Most people are familiar with Beltane, the Celtic New Year, when fire spirits would visit, bringing blessings of summer. Today, we can celebrate the eve of Lammas with games and celebrations. In some communities, people choose a new name to begin the new year, but if you prefer to go a different direction, you could play games with local friends or make an arrowhead, which is a powerful tool to use to direct your direction. Attend a Harvest Celebration Even though we’re getting close to fall, it’s still possible to celebrate the autumn harvest in the middle of summer. You could bring a food or a toy that represents the fruit of the season. For example, if you grow apples, you could bring apple cider, a pick, or a basket of apples.
August is a great time to take a look at your life, and to see what is working for you and what isn't. Use Lammas to take action, and don't just look, act! Wish you all the best in August and beyond!