MONDAY, AUGUST 1: It’s a harvest festival of old today, as Christians give thanks during Lammas Day and Pagans observe Lughnasadh. The first day of August traditionally has been associated with a wheat festival in England and Scotland and other English-speaking communities in the North. This harvest festival is an important time of transition as farmers stop enjoying the bounty of summer crops and begin harvesting for the coming colder seasons.
For Christians, Lammas Day means bringing a loaf of bread to church, where priests bless them, and taking special care in sowing the wheat crop. (CatholicCulture has a Catholic perspective.) A Lammas feast usually accompanied end-of-day festivities, and some of the bread traditionally is put away for future Eucharist. (Wikipedia has details.) A sense of accomplishment marked the time of harvest, and Christians asked God to bless their bread so that “all who eat it may have health of body and soul.” In some countries, Lammas Day was once referred to as the Feast of St. Peter in Chains and commemorated as marking the day St. Peter was miraculously delivered from prison. But, this feast has since been removed from the General Roman Calendar.
At the exact midpoint between Summer Solstice and the Autumnal Equinox, Pagans observe Lughnasadh, a grain and fruit harvest festival associated with nature and the gods of the natural world. (Wikipedia has details.) The Irish sun god, Lugh, provides the name for the first of three Pagan harvest festivals in the calendar year. The grain harvest often includes corn, wheat and barley, and late summer fruits—such as blackberries—play a prominent role also. Modern Pagans (and non-Pagans, too!) can enjoy this ancient harvest festival with activities like baking oat cakes, crafting sand candles, stringing Indian corn for a necklace, gathering with family or picking local fruits. (A Pagan site has general craft instructions and more. Or, check out an Associated Press story on activities for today.)