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Lughnasadh (Loo-nahs-ah), is the first of the three harvest Sabbats. It is derived from the Old Irish word "lunasa", meaning "August". It honors the Celtic Sun God Lugh, and is primarily a grain festival, sometimes called the Sabbat of The First Fruits. Other names for this Sabbat are First Harvest, August Eve, and Lammas,its most common name.
The Irish Sun God Lugh("the shining one") was the God of the Harvests, Fire, Light, and Metallurgy, a protector, and a defender of the weak. The Irish Goddess Dana, as his Queen, is also honored at Lammas. Often the Great Rite is performed in fertile fields, and the Goddess is thanked for bringing forth the first fruits.
Lammas is a Sabbat where only grains and vegetables are sacrificed. Part of the August harvest is often placed on the central altar as an offering. The last grain to be cut at this first harvest is required to be left standing as an offering to the faeries or other nature spirits. The first cut of the harvest is buried, burned, left in the field, or placed at a ritual for the harvest deities to enjoy.
The feast of Lammas is one of the largest of any of the Sabbats. All of the first fruits of the season are served, especially any and all grains. The feast is often consumed in part inside a ritual circle.
Corn is the most well-known of the Lammas fruits. It was revered by Native Americans long before the 16th century. To celebrate the harvest, the Native Americans would gather their clans and celebrated the Festival of the Green Corn, in honor of the Corn Grandmother. Other versions of corn personified are seen in the grain mother and maiden images of Ceres, Demeter, and Persephone.
It is common practice among Celtic and English witches to hold apart a small portion of the corn harvest to make the Imbolg Corn Dolly. Grain ales are made around Lammas, and dedicated to the Harvest Lord. Breads are also a traditional part of this Sabbat's rituals. The baking of sacred bread represents not only the harvest, but the Mother Earth, home, and hearth. It's rising is symbolic of growing pregnancy and thriving fields. In North America, cornbread, with its yellow Sun coloring is the most fitting symbol of the harvest.
Blackberries, a plant that is sacred to the Irish Goddess Brigid and to the Norse God Thor, ripen in July and August. At Lammas, blackberry wines are made for them. Blackberry pies are a featured item at feasts.
Roosters are often present at Lammas festivities, because they are held sacred to the Sun Gods of Europe.
The threshing of grain began the day after Lammas, and was considered a magickal task. The act of carrying a new bride over the threshold(that holds the grain inside the threshing house) was an old fertility custom.
Lammas parties can include canning parties, Corn Husking Bees, or just simple barbecues with lots of corn served. August Eve parties feature not only corn and grain, but also fresh melons.
After Lughnasasdh, we move towards Fall, and the Second Harvest of Mabon.