With Lammas just on the horizon – on August 1st! – I’m in the full swing of preparations. This will actually be my first year celebrating Lammas and I couldn’t be more excited. Witchtok has been gaining speed on the social media trends lately, but even if you’re not a modern day witch, you can still love, learn, and celebrate Lammas.
Lammas, sometimes known as Loaf Mass Day or Lughnasadh, is a holiday of Pagan origin celebrated on August 1st. Lammas is a festival in the liturgical calendar marks the blessing of the first fruits of harvest – AKA the first loaf of the harvest. This is a time when, traditionally, the first grains would have been harvested and the first loaves of bread of the season baked and served.
Traditionally, loaves of bread were often placed on altars to the “Green Man” (the sun god Lugh).
The beautiful thing about seasonal holidays is that anyone can celebrate them. I’m definitely no history expert, so I’ll leave the historical details to those with far more qualifications than I. But from what I gather everyone from your everyday nonsecular human to Christians to Wiccans to Pagans celebrate Lammas.
I personally in the past have identified as Deist, meaning I acknowledge a higher power, but not necessarily an organized religion. Many of America’s founding fathers identified as Deist (many of them were also slave owners, sexist, and corrupt in their own ways, so admittedly not a perfect set of men to idolize). As I’ve explored all the possibilities spirituality has had to offer (and as I embarked on my own Health Coach journey), I’ve recently found myself leaning more into Paganism. I enjoy and appreciate celebrating cycles (the seasons, the moon). I appreciate a connection to nature. I also have so often felt disconnected to my own Irish heritage and Paganism has a lot of roots in Ireland, giving me a sense of self I haven’t explored much.
Anyone can celebrate Lammas – it doesn’t matter what religion you identify with.
Do we really need an excuse to party?
But in all seriousness, celebrating Lammas is a great way to usher in the next season of the year. Lammas, celebrated on August 1st, marks the end of summer and the very beginnings of fall. While the leaves and weather changing aren’t in full swing (we save that celebration for a true harvest festival), Lammas is the first indication that fall is on its way. Lammas falls halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox. Celebrating Lammas is celebrating the closure of one chapter and the start of another. It’s a great time to give thanks, a reminder to truly enjoy the last bit of summer, and celebrate with friends.
Hands down one of the most authentic Lammas traditions to celebrate Lammas Day is to bake bread or have some bread made. If you “cheat” and buy a loaf – that’s totally okay, too! But I’d recommend supporting a local bakery and purchasing a truly handmade loaf in the spirit of Lammas rather than buying from a chain grocery store.
Baking bread is a classic, timeless way to celebrate Lammas. Since Lammas marks the fruits of the first harvest, bread from the first grain harvest would have been on the festival tables. In fact, in some historical Lammas celebrations, bread would have been brought to church to be blessed prior to consumption.
I’m personally a huge fan of baking sourdough. My favorite recipe is the Tartine Country Loaf recipe. Admittedly sourdough is a bit of a labor of love, so if you’re wanting more approachable Lammas recipes try out Mark Bittman’s No Knead Bread recipe. I’m also a huge fan of this beer bread recipe – it’s super delicious when toasted. Whatever Lammas bread recipe you choose, centering a celebration around the baking and sharing of bread is very authentic to the holiday.
This year, I plan to bake several loaves to both enjoy myself and to gift to others. There’s no better way to celebrate than the sharing of Lammas bread.
Another way to engage in a Lammas ritual of sorts is to host a Lammas dinner. Historically, a Lammas festival would have been held. Hosting some close friends over for a private dinner is the modern day way to have a festival of your own! My recommendation would be to do as the original celebrations would have done: cook seasonally. Early Pagans and Christians would’ve only prepared food that was in season, so opt for a dinner menu packed with seasonal fruits, veggies, and of course bread.
For our Lammas dinner, I’m planning to serve my homemade sourdough, grilled corn, and potentially a pasta with seasonal vegetables. Lammas dessert will be packed with seasonally appropriate fruits (think apples, peaches, apricots, berries, etc).
Yes, really. It’s all about the grains, people! Hops would be harvested during this time, so having a beautifully rich, hoppy beer is a perfectly acceptable way to celebrate the days around Lammas. My best friend’s birthday is on Lammas and this year she’s planning to celebrate at a local brewery. She herself doesn’t celebrate Lammas, but man she could not have picked a more perfectly authentic Lammas style birthday location! I’ll be soaking up all the beer celebrating her birthday before cooking a Lammas Day dinner for my husband and I.
Corn husk dolls are a fun, harvest-time focused craft to do on Lammas. Corn would have been another key crop to harvest. Corn husk dolls are also insanely fun to make and a great way to celebrate Lammas with kids!
The first harvest often symbolizes reaping the rewards of your labor and hard work. Around the time of Lammas, we’re about halfway through the year. This is a great time to pause, reflect, and take stock of where all of your work this year has gotten you. What rewards have you collected and seen? What do you still hope to work towards? What is the next step you can take both in work and in your relationships? Lammas is the perfect time to assess how far you’ve come and do a little soul search for where you’d like to continue to grow during the year.
I read an amazing book (here) recently that gave such a rich history and context to witches. Witches have symbolized many things over the years, but so often witchcraft is associated with women of power. Throughout history, men have cried “witch!” to accuse a woman of taking too much, imagining too much, and becoming too powerful. Midwives were accused of witchcraft, for example.
Between a global pandemic, the long overdue “Me Too” movement, and plenty of other movements seeking to give women the power, pay, and seat at the table they deserve – it’s really no wonder witchcraft has been building in popularity. No, you definitely don’t have to identify as Wiccan or as a witch to celebrate Lammas – but it’s pretty cool that these holidays are becoming more mainstream to the general public.
Share your Lammas Day celebration traditions in the comments down below!
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