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Lammas: What is it & Ideas for Celebrating it

Updated on:

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)

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Reviewed by: Tina Caro

Lammas is a Christian celebration of Anglo Saxon origin that is common within many modern Pagan communities as well. It is celebrated on or near August 1st.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh, is a pagan and witchcraft festival celebrated on August 1st, marking the first harvest of the year.

Contemporary ways to celebrate Lammas include throwing a Lammas party with friends and family, learning something new, and infusing your dishes with herbs harvested during this time.

Giving back to nature by tending to your garden and leaving offerings, as well as decorating your home with symbols of the harvest season, is a meaningful aspect of Lammas celebrations.

Lammas rituals can be spiritually enriching, with options like a gratitude ritual, a roasted corn ritual, and even a Lammas handfasting ceremony, emphasizing love and commitment on this special harvest Sabbat.

What is Lammas?

Lammas, or loaf mass from (hlaf-mas) is a First Fruits celebration involving the blessing of loaves of bread produced from the first cuttings of grain. In Anglican Christian tradition, the loaves are prepared at Lammastide, halfway between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox, and brought to the church to be blessed by the clergy on the following Sunday, Loaf Mass day.

AspectDescription
DateAugust 1st
Also Known AsLughnasadh, First Harvest
SignificanceCelebrating the first harvest and the ripening of grain
Cultural OriginsPagan, particularly Celtic
Modern PracticesMaking corn dollies, baking bread, feasts with seasonal foods
Table: Lammas Overview

The blessed loaf may be used as a charm, placing four pieces in the four corners of the home for protection or in four corners of the barn to protect the rest of the harvest.

In Medieval times, Lammas seems to have been a celebratory event involving raucous games and contests among the common folk as the haying season ended and the sheep were brought in. In Scotland, it marked, and indeed still marks, a quarter day, when accounts are settled.

celebrating lammas by tina caro
Copyright: Tina Caro

Several modern Pagan traditions celebrate Lammas. Often bread is baked in remembrance and reverence for ancestors who harvested their own grain and baked their own bread as a matter of survival. Sometimes a specific type of bread is prescribed, such as a bannock or a hoecake or the loaf may be braided or shaped in some other way to make it special. Some traditions specify that the loaf must be created outdoors over the ritual fire and/or that it be created with energy and intention. The Lammas loaf may then be used as an offering to the ancestors and/or Gods or used as a charm as previously mentioned.

It is generally believed that Lammas is a Pagan tradition that was absorbed into the church liturgical calendar as part of the efforts to convert the Anglo-Saxon people and the British Isles. It is mentioned within early Wiccan documents as one of the four major Sabbats of the year.

The Witches Creed mentions Lammas

Four times in the year the Great Sabbat Returns, and the witches are seen At Lammas and Candlemas dancing, On May Eve and old Hallowe’en.((https://www.sacred-texts.com/bos/bos083.htm))

Within the Pagan community and varying by tradition, Lammas may be considered equivalent to Lughnassadh or First Harvest.

Similar and related festivals: Gŵyl Awst, Lughnassadh, First Harvest, Freyfaxi

Contemporary Ways to Celebrate Lammas

The best traditions are able to shift and flex with changing times, without losing any of their meaning. Try these modern ways of celebrating Lammas, to both connect with the past and create a magickal thread to the future.

Activity TypeIdeasPurpose/Significance
Food & FeastBaking bread, preparing dishes with seasonal produceHonoring the harvest, sharing abundance
CraftsMaking corn dollies, weaving wheat stalksSymbolizing the spirit of the grain, creativity
RitualsCandle rituals, gratitude practicesGiving thanks for abundance, setting intentions
Outdoor ActivitiesNature walks, harvesting herbs/gardensConnecting with nature, recognizing the harvest
Table: Lammas Celebration Ideas

Throw a Lammas Party

It’s a wonderful time of year to throw an outdoor Lammas party for friends and loved ones, to celebrate and offer gratitude for the year’s first harvest. If you can, purchase foodstuffs from local growers and sellers, and use ingredients that are in season. Alternatively, hold a potluck, and request that attendees bring a dish of seasonal fare.

If you’re going to put time into creating one item on the menu from scratch, make it the bread. With its close association with Lammas, a homemade loaf is a beautiful thing to display in the center of the table- and enjoy eating!

Decorate the table with fresh flowers, candles, and sheaves of wheat, string up outdoor lights, and prepare to feast and welcome Lammas with those dear to you.

Learn Something New

Lammas is linked to the god Lugh who is associated with craftsmanship and art. So if there’s a new hobby you’ve always wanted to take up, now is a perfect time! Honor this sabbat by, for example, taking an evening art course, learning to throw pottery, or re-taking up an instrument that you used to play.

Build this new skill into your Lammas celebrations by framing and hanging a picture you’ve painted, using your newly-thrown pottery vase to hold your Lammas flowers – or even playing a tune or two at the Lammas party we mentioned above!

table for celebrating lammas by tina caro
Copyright: Tina Caro

Infuse Your Dishes with Herbs

Herbs associated with Lammas include goldenrod, yarrow, vervain, meadowsweet, and mint.

Try using these herbs in meals, to make tea, or decorate your home to mark this special sabbat. Vervain essential oil can also be used to give a boost of health and a Lammas blessing to your loved ones.

Yarrow has been used for centuries for a variety of things. In folklore, it’s traditionally held to protect against evil spirits, ill will, and curses. To celebrate Lammas, try stringing bunches across your doorway, or wearing it around your neck.

Give a Gift to Nature

Given that Lammas is about showing gratitude for nature’s bounty, it’s the perfect time to gift something back to nature.

Be as creative as you like with this; build a bug hotel for your garden, plant some seeds, or leave an offering of dried herbs or flowers beneath a tree. Keep a positive intention and gratitude in your heart as you prepare and leave your gift.

These are just a few ideas – be guided by your inspiration. You may choose to bury a special crystal in the earth, for example, scatter grain for the birds, or simply send the power of your good thoughts and wishes out into the world.

Decorate Your Home

Relax, light some candles, burn some incense, and have fun decorating your home to celebrate Lammas. As well as the herbs we listed above, it’s also a great time to hang strings or braids of onions in the window.

As well as warding off ill-will and illness, they’re also great for soaking up negativity within the home. Sunflowers are a vibrant choice of flower that’s just right for Lammas and will look gorgeous in vases around your space.

Choose orange, yellow, and red candles to place (carefully!) around your space, and position crystals around the home, too.

The crystals best associated with Lammas include carnelian, agate, citrine, jasper, peridot, and moonstone.

Group these in the way that feels right to you, and enjoy their beauty as they reflect the changing light in the room.

Create a Lammas Altar

Creating an altar to mark Lammas is a lovely activity to undertake in the leadup to the celebration, or on the day itself. As well as candles and crystals, you may wish to place oats, grain, mint, and dried calendula petals on your altar, as well as rose or sandalwood incense.

Corn poppets have long been used to mark Lammas, and many modern practicing Wiccans place these little charms on their Lammas altars today. If you’re feeling creative, you could have a go at making your own – maybe using dried flowers for the skirts – or otherwise, they can be purchased relatively cheaply.

If you choose to leave offerings of Lammas food on your altar, you may wish to bury these offerings in the earth after Lammas, as a gift for nature’s creatures.

Try Your Hand at Canning and Jamming

Lammas was traditionally the time when homegrown vegetables would be blanched ready for freezing, and chutneys and jams made and canned. Whether or not you’ve had a go at such practices before, why not try your hand at them this year?

There’s something very satisfying about storing up food for the winter, and it’s another way to make the most of the harvest.

Make things more fun by putting on some music, asking over a friend or two, and having a canning party! As you work, imagine your hopes and dreams for next year going into the food, to stay safe and warm throughout the cold winter months.

Lammas Rituals to Try

If you’d like to incorporate a ritual into your Lammas celebrations, these easy ideas are a good place to start.

A Gorgeous Gratitude Ritual

Lammas is a time for gratitude – for expressing thanks for the many gifts the natural world and Universe have given us. This makes it the perfect sabbat for performing a gratitude ritual. Try this simple way to offer thanks:

  1. Find a quiet place and sit or lie comfortably. Relax, take a few deep breaths, and feel the tension leave your body.
  2. Reflect on your personal harvest of the year gone by. Consider your blessings, the things you have achieved, and the people who have helped you on your journey.
  3. Move on to thinking about the challenges you have faced, the personal growth experienced, and the lessons you have learned.
  4. When you’re ready, open your eyes and write down in your journal or on a piece of paper the things you are grateful for.
  5. Leave this written record on your altar, or bedside table, and add to it every morning upon waking, or just before you sleep at night.

A Yummy Roasted Corn Ritual

Celebrate the first harvest with this yummy corn ritual. Why not try cooking the corn outside and sharing it with friends (perhaps accompanied by a slice or two of Lammas bread) as the sun begins to set?

Be sure to savor the lovely flavors, and give thanks for the nutritious gift your body is receiving.

Ingredients:

  • Unschucked corn cobs
  • A pot of water
  • Butter
  • Crushed garlic
  • Salt, pepper, and paprika
  1. Soak the corn cobs in the pot of water (unshucked) for an hour or two.
  2. Place the corn cobs (still dressed in their husks) onto the grill. Let them cook for around half an hour, turning occasionally. When the husk is dry and slightly burnt, they’re ready.
  3. Carefully remove the cobs from the grill and let them cool for a few minutes. Taking care not to burn yourself, peel each husk all the way back, so that it can be used as a handle  – alternatively use a wooden skewer.

    Brush the cobs with butter and sprinkle with the crushed garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika.

A Lammas Handfasting Ritual

Handfasting is a marriage ritual that is traditionally held on Lammas or Beltane. This symbolic celebration is a beautiful way to mark the commitment made by two people to each other and, if you have a partner, you may wish to incorporate a handfasting into your Lammas plans.

handfasting ritual by tina caro magickal spot
Copyright: Tina Caro

Handfastings can take many different forms, so use the below as inspiration.

  1. Each member of the couple should write vows that are personal and meaningful to them.
  2. Create a sacred space and decorate it in a way that reflects the sabbat: use fresh flowers, leaves, grains, and other things that represent the harvest.
  3. During the ceremony, witnessed by friends and family members, each partner should say their vows while holding hands.
  4. Once this is done, an officiant should bind the couple’s hands together using a ribbon or cord, in a figure-eight shape that represents the infinite nature of their unity and love. While this is done, the couple may wish to recite words of blessings or unity or a prayer.

A handfasting ceremony should be filled with loving intention, and suffused with a deep connection to the natural world.

Once the handfasting itself is complete, enjoy a wonderful celebration with your loved ones by dancing, laughing, and relishing a feast of traditional Lammas fare.

Lammas: Celebrating and Giving Gratitude on this Special Harvest Sabbat 

Lammas is a beautiful sabbat that marks the first harvest, offering the opportunity to give thanks, reflect on the year gone by, and prepare for the cold winter months ahead.

Whether you’ll be marking this sabbat solo or are considering planning a big Lammas feast, use the above guide as inspiration to plan your own Lammas celebrations and rituals, to honor the turning wheel of the year.

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About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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