Weodmonath and Lammas

My last couple of posts have been about various aspects of my religious beliefs. This last weekend was a festival dear to many pagans and polytheists.

Lammas is part of some Christian liturgies. It is derived from hlafmasse, loaf mass, the feast of first fruits. It’s the first harvest festival and takes place on the 1st of August, or used to. These days it’s more common for pagans to celebrate Lammas than Christians. Often conflated with Lughnasadh, an Irish festival commemorating the death of Lugh’s mother Tailtiu, Lammas is a time to celebrate harvests.

Except most of us live in towns and wheat isn’t necessarily the dominant grain or plant in an area. Where I live, depending on the year, it can indeed be wheat – it is this year – legumes or oil seed rape. An hour or so to the south it might be cabbages, potatoes or sugar beet. If you live further north then the first harvest might be later.

Some authors have suggested that the focus in bread suggests that Lammas is pre-Christian in origin. I’m not denying the possibility, but if one uses the calendar in Bede’s On the reckoning of time, there is no mention of any preexisting celebration in August. In fact the month is referred to as Weodmonath – weed month. This does not surprise me at all, English weather being what it is, warm and damp can sum up many summers and weeds grow prolifically (that reminds me, I must get my weeding done). September on the other hand is recorded as both Haligmonath (Holy month) and Harvest month. Therefore, I am ambivalent about celebrating Lammas.

While I’m ambivalent, I did give thanks for my small harvest of peas and potatoes, and my garden in general. There was wild boar with veg, and mead. And cider. I recommend wild boar, especially if you like strong meat.

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