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Lammas – a festival with several meanings

Celebrated on 1st August, Lammas is a special festival day for Pagans – who call it Lughnasadh (pronouced loo’nass’ah) – but it is also an old English festival from Anglo-Saxon times.

In Anglo-Saxon, Lammas means ‘loaf mass’ and was a festival to mark the beginning of the wheat harvest.  Falling at the halfway point between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox, it was the first harvest festival of the year.

On this day it was customary to bring to church a loaf made from the new crop, to be blessed.  In many parts of England, tenants were bound to present freshly harvested wheat to their landlords on or before Lammastide.  These two traditions explain why it is sometimes called ‘the feast of the first fruits’.

For Pagans, Lammas is one of their festivals of Celtic origin which split the year into four.  Although farming is not such an important part of modern life in England as it used to be, Lughnasadh is still seen as a harvest festival, and symbols connected with the reaping of corn predominate in its rites.  Pagans see this as a time to reap those things they have sown, and to celebrate the fruits of the mystery of nature.

Interestingly, Lammas is the name given to a pioneering project in West Wales, which seeks to explore a model for living on the land, with an infrastructure which supports a one-planet lifestyle.

Mary Vickers
author
Mary Vickers moved to North East Lincolnshire in 2010, from the Wiltshire/Hampshire border, to become Urban and Industrial Chaplain NELincs. Made redundant in 2017, she's maintained many of her connections within the business, faith, and other local communities. She's also decided to stay here rather than return to either the south or her husband's native Yorkshire, so that she can continue to enjoy and help promote the positives of NELincs.

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