Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lammas


Lammas, the beginning of the harvest, celebration of bread and those who bake it, celebration of work, celebration of Lugh master of all work, and the work of bringing in the harvest, to honor the craftsman, and those who educate, but most of all it is a thanksgiving for what is to come, offerings and petitions to the Mother of Grain, Demeter,Ceres, the Corn Maidens.  There is much more harvesting to come and many things that can go wrong  before the bounty of crops are safely stored away for the cold months ahead.


The celebration begins a sundown on July 31st, however some still use the old date of Aug 6th.  Lammas is actually the medieval name for the holiday, meaning "Loaf mass" when parishioners left loaves baked from the newly harvested grain and other fruits of the early harvest at church alters likely also as much in petition as thanksgiving.

 


The first loaves made from fresh gain must have been very welcome, as the flour and grain that had been in storage for months had probably at least become rancid,  stale and likely moldy.  Accounts of how gypsum, ground bone, ashes and other whitish powders were added to "stretch" flour in those times are as eye opening and disgusting as they are clever.

The first sheaves of wheat were often braided and saved until the next Lammas, when they were placed on the lammas fire in ceremonial cremation. 

The Lady of the Grain, the provider of loaves , gave her name to the Lady of the House, the provider of "our daily bread". In Old English the word "hlaf-dig":  "hlaf" meaning loaf and "dig" meaning knead became the root word for lady, derived from lady of the house or the one who makes bread.  The other household art of brewing also began again with the harvest of fresh grain.

Lammas, or in Celtic, Lughnasadh, expresses the cycle of life, and the dependence of new life on the base left for it "all that falls shall rise again".  A contentment in work, satisfaction in seeing what one has gained from one labors, now is the time to savor and look forward.















 

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