31st July / 1st August
The Celtic festival of Lammas is celebrated at
the start of the harvesting season, it is also known as: Lughnasadh
( pronounced Loo-nus-ah), Lugnasa and Lughnasa.
It is the festival of the Irish sun god,
Lugh - the name means 'shining one', and celebrates
the opening of harvest time - the feast of the first fruits.
The god is symbolically cut down by gathering the crops at harvest,
and then reborn in the bread made from the harvest grains. The
festival also honours Demeter, Greek goddess
of the Bountiful Harvest.
'Lammas' was the medieval Christian name for the holiday means
‘loaf mass', and at this time loaves of bread baked from
the first harvest grains are offered to gods. The first harvest
of wheat, barley and the maturing of potatoes is celebrated.
At this time of the year the air is heavy with fruitfulness,
as the harvest and life of the Corn Spirit/ Sun god is celebrated.
Lammastide was the traditional time when craft
fairs and pageants were held. Long Summer evenings are beginning
to get shorter.
In Ireland Lammas is traditionally a time for buying and selling,
horse trading and music.
The ‘Oul Lammas Fair’, Ireland's oldest traditional
market fair, which takes place in Ballycastle, Co Antrim on
the last Monday and Tuesday in August, attracts people in their
thousands at festival time.
Saint Catherine was celebrated - ‘ The Catherine Wheel’
came from the Pagan rites when a wagon wheel would be tarred,
set on fire and rolled down a hill - symbolizing the decline
of the Sun God as the seasos wheel turns to Autumn Equinox.
If the wheel went out before it reached the bottom - poor harvest,
abundant if it remained lit.
St. Ciaran's Well, Clonmacnois, County Meath - pilgrims go with
torches at midnight on the first sunday in August - looking
for a trout. The sun was believed to live in holy wells during
Celts erected temporary hills to celebrate the harvest festival
of Lammas. In Ireland a girl would be seated on the hill-top,
garlanded with flowers and proclaimed the goddess of the hill.
Celts would climb hills to pray to the gods and gather bilberries
The raising up of Celtic crosses onto stone steps recalls the
Lammas tradition - Perrons - a type of man-made holy terraced
Making of the Corn Dolly from the best ears of corn taken from
the last sheaf to be harvested.
This was usually kept hanging over the hearth to bring good
luck, and the seeds were added to the new seeds in the Spring.
upon a Lammas nicht
corn rigs is bonnie, O!
th moon's uncloudit licht
held awa tae Annie, O!
time flew by wi tentless heed
atween th late an earlie, O!
smar persuasion she greed,
see me thro th barley, O!
rigs an barley rigs
rigs are bonnie
nivver fergit tha happy nicht
th rigs wi Annie, O!