Lughnasadh: The August 1st Summer Celebration
Growing up, I always felt like I lost out because my birth month, August, is basically the only month without a holiday. And to top it off, for many Americans, it signals the end of summer and the return to school.
Perhaps that’s why the Celtic holidays speak to me so– August has its very own holiday: Lughnasadh.
Lughnasadh goes by about a hundred different names, depending on where in Europe you live and what religion your celebrate. There’s Lunasa, Luanistyn, Lammas, Gwl Awst, Reen Sunday, Mountain Sunday, First Harvest, Silberry Sunday, and many, many more.
For many Celtic pagans, it’s one of the four sacred holidays: Imbolc, Beltaine, and Samhain join it. The inspiration for this comes from the Ulster Cycle, which is the tale of the great Irish hero, Cu Chulainn. In the story, Cu Chulainn is ordered to forego sleep for one whole year, throughout all of these four holidays in order to win the love of Emer.
Lughnasadh is the celebration of the god Lugh, also known as The Green Man and John Barleycorn. You might know any of these names as the names of harvest deities in the British Isles. That’s because Lughnasada is the celebration of the harvest, of a long summer spent growing and tending crops, and the coming of the cold, harsh winter.
How can you celebrate Lughnasadh? Well, if you aren’t a farmer, you can still celebrate the coming of autumn and the darkening that leads into winter. Many pagans now celebrate it on August 15th as the mid-point of August is a little more appropriate for the current climate. It also falls in line with the Ascension of Mary in the Roman Catholic tradition, making it easier to disguise as a Christian celebration– for those who had to, and still do, disguise it.
Lugh is consecrated on high places, like hills or mountain tops, and he corresponds to corn or other types of grain (which makes him an excellent god for those who brew beer). Additionally, he is meant to represent the fruition of things sewn in the past. So, while it’s a great idea to get crazy with your celebrations, it’s also a great time to think about projects you’ve begun that are soon to finish, or personality aspects you’re working on changing and how that change is coming. Take the time to do some self-reflection and maybe even some journaling to find out what kind of harvest you’re reaping– and what you may need to start sewing in the future to better that harvest.