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  • Writer's pictureIrene Park

A Holiday in August

Though there may be many holidays during the year such as Christmas, Halloween, or New Years, many do not know about the holidays of August which is the season of harvest. Although the direct time of when it was first celebrated is unknown, it is believed to have originated in the Anglo Saxon period inspired by a pagan holiday. Lammas Day is celebrated on the first of August which would be on Saturday this year. Also known as Loaf Mass Day or Lughnasadh, it is a holiday that celebrates the first wheat harvest of the year and marks the end of that year’s hay harvesting season; the harvests that are celebrated also include the grain harvests of barley, oats, and rye. Mostly celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere such as England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, it is also believed to be celebrated in order to honor the Lugh, a prominent god in Irish mythology known as a skilled craftsman. This led to celebration of Lammas Day in the medieval times to include booths that sold a variety of items and the booth itself being decorated with a colourful array of ribbons, especially green, or with fall colours.

Other traditions of Lammas Day include baking bread made with the first wheat crop. The bread would then be taken to church to be blessed and ripped into four different pieces to be placed in the corners of a barn. This process was known to protect the harvested grain of that year. Often baked in a variety of different shapes it was usually baked into a wreath, corn, or owl to represent Lammas Day. Another tradition was to create corn dolls using corn husks from the harvest as well as using other dried up grains to create a variety of items such as bowls or hats made with dried oat stalks.

Here’s how you can celebrate Lammas Day:

  • You can make your own corn doll

The only items that are essential to making a corn doll are dried corn husks to create the doll itself, cotton balls to create the shape of the head, and finally some string or ribbons to help it keep its shape.

  • Bake your own Lammas bread

The Lammas bread does not have to have a specific recipe as long as it’s just freshly baked bread from scratch, but a way to make it more festive would be to create it in different shapes just as the Anglo Saxons did when celebrating Loaf Mass Day.

  • Create your own Lammas Altar

It may not be for religious reasons like the pagans when they celebrated Lughnasadh but harvest and the fall season can still be celebrated. Common items to put on the Lammas altar include symbols of autumn such as autumn leaves, acorns, nuts and symbols of the harvest such as a corn husk chain, corn dolls, and items of the harvest itself.

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