Lammas – Cross Quarter Day
August 1, 2013
In Pagan times the Sabbats (from the Greek ‘sabatu’ meaning ‘to rest’.) were festivals honoring the growth cycle of crops – planting, tending, harvesting and allowing the land to rest. They celebrated the path of the Sun from high in the sky and warm to low in the sky and cool – the seasons. Many Pagans saw time as one eternal whole. The god is born of the eternal goddess, dies, and is reborn. A life well lived was lived in harmony and rhythm with these cycles.
It is thought the Sabbats have been celebrated in many places and in various forms for at least 12,000 years. Some estimate much, much longer. In modern times there are still those who follow the old Pagan ways.
With the advent of Christianity and the brutal persecution of any non-Christians, the pagans went into hiding which preserved the old ways. Even many Christian holy-days are based on these ancient pagan rites.
Lammas, also called Lughnasadh, was traditionally a harvest festival day. Originally it was held August 1st, or approximately halfway between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox. However, over time the celebrations shifted to the Sundays nearest this date. It is one of the eight Sabbats in the pagan Wheel of the Year and is the first of three autumn harvest festivals.
Throughout history, Pagan worshippers in Ireland, Britain, and Europe have celebrated their bountiful harvests on this day and offered prayers and sacrifices for the success of future crops.
In olden times it was customary to bake loaves of bread from the first grain harvest and bring them to church to be blessed. In some cultures the loaves might be used afterwards to work Magic. A book of Anglo-Saxon charms directed that the Lammas bread be broken into four bits, which were to be placed at the four corners of the barn, to protect the garnered grain. Some believe the word Lammas is a shortened form of loaf mass.
Since many fruits, vegetables, and grains today are available to us year round, this celebration is now somewhat overlooked. The holiday is still important for many around the world as it marks the end of summer and the welcoming of autumn.