Lammas is a season, not a date.
A lot of Pagans, when we first begin to practice, are beginning from scratch. We may not have had family members who practiced the old traditions, and we may not have had family members who went to church or were familiar with the concept of Harvest. Many of us live in cities and are completely unfamiliar with the turn of the seasons, and how they affect our lives.
I live in rural New Zealand, in a small town of a few thousand people, and the season of Lammas is very visible. Everywhere you look, there are bales of hay being cut and stored for winter feed. Lambs from the springtime are now fat enough to cull, and the local butcher is very busy turning them into lovely cuts of meat and small goods for the families who raised and owned them.
We did our first harvesting of animals a few weeks ago. We culled three very old ewes, a year old ewe, and a spring lamb. Our freezer is now full to bursting, and everyone who comes and visits is given food parcels – we believe that the earth has been good to us, and it is our responsibility to share that goodness with the people we know and care about.
We’ll be culling more of our animals before winter – four more must go, as we have too many for the farm to support sustainably. It’s a busy time, and the rewards of harvest are well worth it.
To a farmer, Lammas is very much a season. Although we may celebrate the bounty of Lammas on one particular day, the actions and involvement of Lammas goes on for weeks. The fruit trees are harvested, and jams and pickles and chutneys are made. Our chickens are laying like crazy, and I’m busy making lots of cakes, cookies and biscuits for the freezer. Life is full.
How you choose to celebrate Lammas is entirely up to you. Traditionally, grains are a part of any Lammas festival, as this time of year is when they are brought in. But for us, celebration with the foods we have grown ourselves – lamb and chicken and eggs and fruit and salad greens – are logical choices.
Share and celebrate with what you have grown, and what you are harvesting. Be thankful for the food. Remember those around the world who have so little, when you have so much. And share any excess with friends, loved ones, and those in your community in need.
So Lammas is really about thankfulness, and acknowledgement that the Wheel continues to turn. It is about preparation for the coming winter. It is about sharing with our community, and being a part of that community. It is about friendship, trust, and love.
We live in a miraculous world. At Lammas the miracle is even more visible. Be glad of it, and enjoy the world’s offerings.