With the peak of summer in our rearview mirrors, Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh, is on the horizon. While you may be wrapped in sunshine and warmth, the days are already growing shorter, with the shadows of the night lengthening as we move closer to the dark phase of the year. But even though autumn and winter are looming, the tail-end of summer is left to enjoy and give thanks for.
Let’s explore the Lammas holiday in more detail and some Lughnasadh traditions and rituals to help you celebrate this beautiful, bountiful harvest season.
Lammas & the wheel of the year
The Wheel of the Year is a seasonal calendar that many pagans, Wiccans, and witches follow and celebrate. For example, Samhain (October 31st) is what we now know as Halloween (but the original traditions have been twisted), and this is often seen as the witch’s new year rather than January 1st.
The Lammas holiday takes place on August 1st if you live in the northern hemisphere and February 1st in the southern hemisphere.
Sometimes Lammas was celebrated throughout August or through the last two weeks of July and the first two weeks of August (roughly the whole of Leo season). Technically, Lammas begins on the eve of July 31st and runs through the day of August 1st.
Here are the rest of the Wheel of the Year holidays or sabbats as they’re often known. These dates are for the northern hemisphere. These holidays will all be reversed if you live in the southern hemisphere.
The wheel of the year holidays:
- Samhain (October 31st to November 1st)
- Yule/Winter Solstice (December 20th-23rd)
- Imbolc (February 1st)
- Ostara/Spring Equinox (March 20th-23rd)
- Beltane (May 1st)
- Litha/Summer Solstice (June 20th-23rd)
- Lammas (August 1st)
- Mabon/Autumn Equinox (September 20th-23rd)
What is lammas?
Lammas, Lughnasa, or Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-nas-ah) is known as the first harvest of the year and is followed by two more harvests: the second is Mabon, and the third is Samhain. It marks the end of summer and the transition to autumn.
Much of what was planted earlier in the year comes to fruition and is ripe for harvesting and eating, including corn, apples, blackberries, pears, and grapes. In olden times, food was harvested and preserved around this time to ensure there were enough provisions to see people through the cold, barren winter months.
The origins of lammas
There are many origin stories for the Lammas holiday which come from various lineages and traditions and inspire the rituals of this time. Lammas means “loaf mass,” while Lughnasadh means “the marriage of Lugh.” Lugh was a pan-Celtic God widely celebrated throughout Europe.
Around this time, the first grain in the fields is cut in preparation for winter, which marks the first harvest. The Green Man is said to turn from green to gold during this time to represent his death, and his death and sacrifice will feed the people. It is noted that Lammas is part of honoring this sacrifice through celebration.
Symbols of lammas
Colors: yellow, gold, red, orange, light brown, bronze.
Deities: Lugh, Ceres, Demeter, Dionysus, Ceridwen.
Plants: apple, fennel, pear, blackberry, sunflower, basil, honeysuckle, oak, pine, rosemary, poppy, corn, grains, grape leaves, fenugreek.
Animals: sheep, bulls, cows, roosters.
Food: grains, bread, berries, grapes, wine.
Crystals: carnelian, citrine, tiger’s eye.
10 Rituals & traditions to celebrate lammas & lughnasadh
Now that you know the origins of Lammas and Lughnasadh, here are Lammas traditions to celebrate the first harvest with ritual and tune back into the natural seasons of the Earth. Pick one, a handful, or do them all; the choice is yours.
1. Create a lammas altar
One of the simplest ways to celebrate the Wheel of the Year holidays is to decorate your altar (or create one) with colors, objects, crystals, plants, etc., representing the specific festival.
For Lammas, read through the symbols above for inspiration. Consider adding wheat, an ear of corn, sunflowers, autumnal colors (yellow, gold, orange, brown), and crystals that embody the essence of this season.
2. Have a seasonal feast
Another simple and wonderful way to celebrate Lammas with ritual is to prepare a feast using seasonal produce and invite loved ones to devour this bounty.
Think grilled corn on the cob, homemade popcorn, freshly baked bread, apples, pear, blackberries, grapes, wine, or whatever grows locally near you. A farmer’s market is the best place to go for inspiration.
Before you tuck in, hold hands and give thanks for the harvest.
3. Preserve your own food
Lammas was traditionally a time when people would harvest fruits and vegetables and turn them into preserved stores in sealed jars to see them through winter. Even though we no longer need this, it can be a lovely way to honor this season. Pick something growing locally near you and find a recipe to prepare, whether it’s a blackberry jam, a bottle of homemade wine, a red onion chutney, or something else.
4. Create a lammas harvest jar
Find a jar, tin, or container and a stack of small pieces of paper (sticky notes will work). Write down everything you’ve manifested this year, what you’re grateful for, and how you’ve grown.
Place them all in the jar and revisit them over the winter or anytime you need a reminder of all the good in your life and how far you’ve come.
5. Light candles
Another Lammas ritual is to celebrate the final long days of the year by lighting candles. White, yellow, orange, and gold candles are perfect. Place them around your home, on your altar, and keep them burning throughout the day as a reminder of Lughnasadh and what it symbolizes.
6. Offer something to the earth
Another way to give thanks for the first harvest of Lammas is to provide an offering to the Earth as part of your ritual.
Maybe that means you bury a crystal, leave out some nuts, seeds, and grains for animals to feast on, make a bouquet from seasonal flowers and herbs, or leave out a traditional offering of milk, honey, fruit, or chocolate. Be careful with what you leave outside because certain foods make certain animals sick.
7. Bake some lammas bread
One of the most popular Lammas traditions is to use the newly harvested wheat to bake a fresh loaf of bread. This can be as simple or as decadent as you like. If you’re celebrating with loved ones, pass the loaf around the table and have each person tear off a piece of bread, share what they’re grateful for, and then eat it.
Serve your bread with other seasonal fruits and veg.
8. Reflect on your year so far
Lammas is a wonderful time to pause and reflect on the things you sowed around Beltane and all that has come to fruition.
What are you currently reaping? What is yet to fruit? Is there anything you would you like to complete before the final harvest? What seeds can you plant to help you grow in the coming moons and beyond? How can you tend to yourself and your community?
Spend some time journaling on these questions.
9. Make a corn dolly for lammas
Corn dollies are a popular Lammas ritual since corn is abundant during this time. You’ll need a husk of corn, and some foraged leaves, flowers, or a cloth to turn it into a dolly. Get creative and play. There is no right or wrong.
10. Tend to your garden
The final way to celebrate Lammas with ritual is, if you’re a keen gardener, get outside and tend to your garden. Harvest any crops that are ready. Save seeds for next year’s harvest. Plant some fall crops that will see you through the winter.
How will you celebrate lammas with ritual?
I hope this list of Lammas traditions and rituals has inspired you to celebrate this festival however you feel called to and that it connects you back to the Earth and Mamma nature.
Share your thoughts and rituals with me in the comments below.