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Lughnasadh, The First Harvest Festival of The Year

Author: Gordon Ireland

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Earth Spirit Emporium: Books & Stuff
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Lughnasadh, pronounced Loo-nas-ah, also written as Lugnasadh, and Lughnasa,
and is celebrated on August the first and is the first harvest festival of
the year. Lughnasadh is also known as the First Festival, and Lammas.
Lughnasadh still survives is Modern Celtic societies, Ireland calls the
month of August Lunasa, Scotland, Lunasad , and those who live on the Isle
of Man, Luanistyn.

Lughnasadh is named after Lugh, and Celtic Deity who is generally credited
with freeing Ireland from the Firbolg, by defeating their King, Bres.
However, even though the Lughnasadh is named after the Tuatha De Dannan God
Lugh, it is not his festival. Lughnasadh is actually a festival to celebrate
Lugh's foster mother, Tailtui. After deafeating the Firbolg, Lugh became
fostered to Tailtui, she was a member of the Firbolg royal family. It was
common practice for warring peoples to foster to each other, to ensure
peace. The legend goes that after the Tuatha De Dannan defeated the Firbolg,
Tailtui was obligated to clear vast tracts of land for planting. She
supposedly died of exhaustion from this endeavor.

Tailtui was buried by her foster son, Lugh, whose grief was so great that he
threatened to takes his vengeance out upon the crops of the very fields
Tailtui died clearing. Thus, they harvested the groups before Lugh could do
so, and celebrated with a feast honoring his foster mother. She was buried
beneath a great mound, named for her, Tailtui. This mound is where,
supposedly the first feast of Lughnasadh was held. At the feast games of
skill and contests of athletic prowess where held. Also included in the
activities where contests of poetry, singing and storytelling. This was
considered one of the first Olympic events ever to be held.

Lughnasadh also means Oath Fair, Lugh meaning Oath in Gaelic and nasadh,
meaning Fair or gathering. After the harvest was in, it seems that many
contracts would be made for the coming season, such as labor and marriage
contracts. This contracts or oaths were formed and renewed at the
Lughnasadh. Many of the festivals of Lughnasadh where more for the forming
of partnerships and marriages then for the traditional games form which it
started. Though what better way to check out a perspective spouse or someone
to work for you than to observe them in a contest of physical or mental

The First Harvest is still recognized in many of today's agricultural
societies. Many a state or county fair is held during this time. In the
state of Michigan, besides a few dozen county fairs, there is also the
Renaissance festival, which begins in August. In the Americas, corn is the
first crop harvested and the native Americans also celebrated with feasting
and games. The First harvest is a grain festival and grain is often the
choice of sacrifice by both native Americans and European cultures on this
day. No matter, which grain is used the First Harvest is a day of feasting.

Lammas is the Christianized version of Lughnasadh, meaning loaf-mass, though
it is also attributed to mean lamb-mass, a day set-aside for those to make
tribute of lambs to their liege lord. In Ireland today Lammas is celebrated
on the first Sunday of Lunasa (August). Traditionally the first grains would
be blessed by the Church and used in communion. Lammas first appeared
sometime during the 11th or 12th centuries, the church in a move to tighten
its control on the general populace allowed its priest to dedicate the first
Sunday of august to Lammas.

No matter if the 1st of August is called Lughnasadh, First Harvest, or
Lammas, it is a festival to feast, renew old oaths, and make new ones. It
should be regarded as a day of peace among warring fractions, as with
Firblog and Tuatha De Dannan, and as day to celebrate the accomplishments of
the dead, Tailtui, and honor them. It is time pagans should embrace those
who they believed have wronged them and to move forward with their lives.


Foods of Lughnasadh should be primarily of grains, such as breads, corn,
cakes and ale's. There are many more dishes that would be considered
appropriate to Lughnasadh than listed here, such as corn on the cob, lamb,
Wheat Bread, and any dish with a grain, or wheat.


Pre heat oven to 425 F. Sift flour with sugar, baking powder, salt, and
cornmeal. Add eggs, milk, and shortening. Beat till smooth. Pour into
greased pan 9X9X2. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

1/4 cup of sugar

4 teaspoons of baking soda

3/4 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of yellow corn meal

2 eggs

1 cup of milk

1/4 cup of shortening

1 cup of all purpose flour


Preheat oven to 350 F. Melt butter, add molasses and milk, and cool. Sift
together flour, sugar, allspice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir
raisins and mix well. Pour into buttered pan, 13X9X2, baking for 30 minutes.

1/2 cup butter

3 tablespoons molasses

1 cup milk

4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

3 teaspoons ground allspice

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup raisins


Cook rice according to package directions. Put in next 5 ingredients into
large bowl and let stand for about 10 minutes. Add salad oil, then stir in
hot rice, celery and parsley. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon bits and serve

1 cup raw brown rice

1 small onion, minced

3/4 teaspoons of salt

1/8 teaspoon of pepper

1 teaspoon of sugar

1/2 cup of cider vinegar

3 tablespoons of salad oil

1 1/2 cup finely chopped celery

3 tablespoons minced parsley

4 slices of bacon, cooked until crisp


(Makes 4 Servings) Combine buckwheat groats, milk, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a
boil, stirring occasionally. Spread evenly in an 8-inch square pan; chill.
Unmold; cut into 2 inch squares; dredge with flour. Brown on both sides on
lightly greased griddle, turning once. Serve with buttered maple syrup.

1/2 cup buckwheat groats

3 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

All purpose flour

Buttered maple syrup


It keeping with the tradition of Lughnasadh and the fact that while it
became a religious holiday, it didn’t start out that way and the ritual will
include a more non-traditional approach. As Lughnasadh started out as
festival of feasts and contests, it fitting that the ritual includes many of
these elements. How is this to be done you ask?

1.. You will need a calendar of local events in your area. This can
include Renaissance festivals, local, city, county or state fairs, Highland
games and much more. There are also various ethnic festivals that can be
incorporated into the ritual.

2.. You will need to plan your meal. It should include at least one grain,
breads are the most convenient, because they can be found at any of the

3.. You will need to spend at least 5 minutes to honor those who provided
you with you meal. This can be done with a group of friends or by you. After
all, Lughnasadh was started to honor Tailtui, who sacrificed her life for
peace and to allow others a place to grow food.

A suggested thanks is as follows.

As our ancestors have done before us, and our children will do on the

Lets us honor Lugh's foster mother, and understand his sorrow.

4.. Then enjoy yourself, watch the contests, spend money in the midway,
and enjoy the crafts. Honor the hard work that went into creating them;
honor those who still know how to reap the harvest.
You must remember something's can just be enjoyed, not everything has to be
a major production.


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