August Blog – Lammas Day ‘High Summer and First Harvest’
Traditionally, Lammas Day falls on the first of August. It is principally a Christian festival that is celebrated in the northern hemisphere to mark the high point of summer and the oncoming harvest. However, Lammas Day also has pagan roots. Known to pagans as Lughnasa, this day of the year is one of the eight sabbaths of the pagan ‘Wheel of the Year’ that are drawn from solar events in the sky. Whether you know it by its pagan name, its Christian one or its folk name – Loaf Mass Day – Lammas Day still has some significance in the world.
Although nowadays most of us will not even know about Lammas Day when it comes around, rural communities are more likely to mark it in some way, maybe with a charity bake-off or harvest festival. That said, the traditional way of celebrating Lammas Day was to bake loaves of bread from the first grain that was ripe enough to cook with. In the past, this would often mean that the loaves would be brought to local churches where they would be blessed or consecrated by the priest. The idea that underpins it is that the wheat crop has grown sufficiently to be harvested and that fresh bread can be made from it, something that will continue to sustain life in the winter months to come.
That’s why Lammas Day is often seen as the first of the harvest festivals that take place all over the country. It marks the point when the growing season is at its peak in many ways. From this point of the year onward, agricultural productivity from land use is only likely to drop until next year as the nights begin to draw in. Of course, with modern farming techniques, we now know that the optimal time to bring in a crop of wheat might not be at the start of August. It will all depend on how dry the weather has been. However, few people who work in agricultural settings for a living can get to the month of August without the importance of Lammas Day being at least reflected on.
I think Lammas marks the commencement of one of our busiest times of the year. We are on constant alert to help farmers through the oncoming harvesting season to take care of essential maintenance work while they get on with the hard work of bringing crops in.
Till next time folks!