Lughnasadh (loo-nuh-suh) – is the Celtic festival of the beginning of the harvest. It gives thanks to the forces of the Earth for a bountiful harvest. Originally, it is celebrated from sunset on July 31 to sunset on August 1. It is the halfway mark between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox, therefore it is often called a cross-quarter day.
Lughnasadh has always been a time for large outdoor festivals celebrating the harmony and successful partnership between humans and the Earth. During Lughnasadh people would come together at fairs, festivals and large trading markets where horses, skills and handicrafts would be bought, traded and sold. Athletic games and contests were held and men would show off their strength. It is also the time of handfastings, the trial marriages that would last until the next year’s Lughnasadh. If the pairing was successful the couple stayed together, if not a simple ceremony formally dissolved their relationship.
All this merry-making would take place on hilltops and mountains.
There is a play and film entitled, Dancing at Lughnasa by Irish writer Brian Friel. The film stars Meryl Strep.
I acknowledge these days to keep me ground. These equinoxes, solstices and cross-quarter days are part of the seasonal round, the cycle of life.
Food is gathered and put-by for the long winter ahead. I harvest food from my kitchen garden and buy food from farmer’s markets.
Fresh green corn is preserved as corn salsa, frozen corn, and plain old canned corn.
Beans and Squash are picked. Berries and grapes are ready for gathering. Blueberry or blackberries are ripe and often the food theme for festivals at this time.
Walnuts, beechnuts, acorns and sunflower seeds will be ready toward the end of August.
Birds are beginning to migrate southward.
On Lughnasadh, like to search for the first leaf on a tree to turn crimson or gold.