What About Lughnasadh?

The festival of Lughnasadh, or Lammas marks the end of summer and the beginning of
fall. This is the first of three harvest festivals. The day now grows visibly shorter and the
temperatures begin to hint at the winter to come.

We get the name, "Lammas" from the medieval Christians. Lammas means, "loaf-mass,"
giving us the tradition of baking loves of bread from the first grain harvest. These were
often laid on the church altar as an offering. This represented the use of the first fruits of

"Lughnasadh" is the name of the holiday that comes to us from Gaelic, referring to the feast
celebrating the games of the Irish sun god, Lugh. Reading the lore, we find that Lugh
actually is commemorating the death of Taillte, his foster mother. The Lughnasadh
celebrations are often called the Tailltean Games in Ireland.

A very common custom during this time is the handfasting that lasts a year and a day.
Couples use this time to decide if they can live together for life or to part ways. If they
decided to handfast for life, a ceremony would ensue making that official. Handfastings
of both types can occur during any time of year, though during this time is a well known

Lughnasadh is the common time of year for medieval guilds to put on Renaissance
Festivals. Merchants attending these will display their wares in traditional Renaissance
appearance. Today, there are large groups of people that work the fairs as actors and
actresses. They dress in medieval costumes and even learn to talk the common speech of
the Renaissance period. Ren fair is a place where one can go to this day to see
traditional, full contact jousting. Traditional music and dance is there. Shows and
parades go through the day. Re-enactment of famous field battles is also common.
Traditional food and drink is available. These festivals are great fun, but beware of
overspending, as the opportunity is great and tempting indeed!
Once upon a Lammas Night
When corn rigs are bonny,
Beneath the Moon's unclouded light,
I held awhile to Annie... 
Once upon a Lammas Night
When corn rigs are bonny,
Beneath the Moon's unclouded light,
I held awhile to Annie... 
The time went by with careless heed
Between the late and early,
With small persuasion she agreed
To see me through the barley... 
Corn rigs and barley rigs,
Corn rigs are bonny!
I'll not forget that happy night
Among the rigs with Annie!

*Robert Burns