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Lughnasadh: The feast of grain and berries

By Jake Bottero

The festival of Lughnasadh marks the time of the first harvest, when grains have ripened in the fields and are being harvested. Pagan Sabbats are traditionally celebrated with ritual and feasting and a frequent question I hear is to ask what sorts of foods one should bring to the difference Sabbat festivals. The good news is that it's a very simple answer. You bring what is in season to you locally at the time.

The Pagan festival is named for the Sun god Lugh, the god of craftsmanship and skill, who is thanked for the harvest and offered prayers for the still-ripening crops. The Bread Man symbolizes Lugh and can be used as the centerpiece of your ritual. Sometimes ritual bread loaves are topped with bits of dough shaped into corn, barley or wheat stalks.

Lammas, comes from the Anglo-Saxon word hlaf-maesse (”loaf-mass”) in commemoration of bread, beer, and all the other foods we make from grain. Making bread and beer is sometimes referred to as the “mysteries of the grain,” because it requires precisely balancing earth (grain), air (bubbles), fire (baking dough or warming starter), water, and spirit (yeast) to make something edible and delicious. In the modern calendar the feast of Lughnasadh falls on August 1st, but at one time would have fallen when the grain was ready to be harvested, regardless of the calendar date.

Some of the foods which would be in season this time of year here in England include:

Fruits

  • bilberries
  • blackberries
  • blueberries
  • gooseberries
  • raspberries
  • redcurrants
  • strawberries
  • tomatoes

Meat and Fish

  • lamb
  • chicken
  • rabbit
  • crab
  • mackerel
  • plaice
  • scallops
  • sea trout

Vegetables

  • beetroot
  • broad beans
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • chillies
  • courgettes
  • cucumber
  • fennel
  • french beans
  • onions
  • peas
  • potatoes (main crop)
  • radishes
  • rocket
  • runner beans
  • turnips
  • watercress

Of course, what foods are in season will vary depending upon where you live.

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