August 1st is known as Lammas Day or as the Gaelic festival period of Lughnasadh. Lammas origins lie in the Christian liturgical calendar, it’s name deriving from the Anglo-Saxon hlaf-mas meaning loaf-mass. It marked a time when the agricultural year and the Christian calendar came together. From Mediaeval times it marked the end of the hay harvest and the beginning of the grain. We have certainly seen that here at Talking Trees ‘headquarters’ as the hot spell in July resulted in fields being mown earlier than ever and grain crops ripening ahead of time. Traditionally a loaf is made from the first grain and blessed in the church. An Anglo-Saxon book of charms said that the Lammas bread should be broken into four parts, which were then to be placed at the four corners of the barn, to protect the garnered grain. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles this time of the year was known as the feast of fruits.
Lughnasadh is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals the others being Samhain, Imbolc and Beltane. The festival is named after the god Lugh, who in one story is said to have seized the harvest for mankind from another god called Crom Dubh who had taken the harvest as his own. The period of celebration began with a solemn cutting of the first corn which was buried in offering and thanks for the coming harvest.
It was and is a time for handfasting, bonfires, visiting springs and wells and tying a token on clootie trees. It was also a time of food from the famine of the summer months where things were growing but not yet ready to be harvested and when a month of hard labour would begin to fetch in the harvest that would feed people for the rest of the year. Lammas Lands were used for growing early crops and were then open for common grazing until spring before the Enclosures Act put a stop to this practice which brought wealth to many but poverty to even more as they had relied on free feed for their animals. As a Celtic Quarter Day it was also a time when spirits were more likely to be walking amongst the living and also for divination that looked to the future.
A couple of days ago we visited our local spring/well which feeds the Halliwell or Holywell brook that runs through our hamlet to make a video of finding the source from which the 2022 Country Wisdom & Folklore Diary may have been created. The front cover of our new diary relates to the mass of folklore, traditions & superstitions that originate from watercourses. The Halliwell spring once had a wellhead fitted to it and locals would not only use this as a source of water but also a site of superstition where people once threw pins & nails as a protectorate against witches. The site was also where mediaeval fairs and wakes picnics once took place attracting people from far and wide.
We hope you like the harvest of our labour, with the Country Wisdom & Folklore collection now being available to buy in our shop at www.talkingtreesbooks.co.uk
As always we thank you for helping us keep the old ways alive & celebrate the year.
Wishing you a bountiful harvest in your life this Lammastide. x