The name Lughnasa is translated as the commemoration of Lugh, or as the games/assembly of Lugh. I have already mentioned Lugh in a previous post so I won't go into too much detail here. There are several theories regarding the etymology of this deity's name. Some think that it comes from the Latin word lux (light), others believe it comes from lucus (grove), or perhaps the Celtic word lugio (oath). Recent theories are mostly in favor of the last etymology which points to Lugh being the god or perhaps the patron of oaths, rather than a deity of light and fire as was presumed up to now. This is connected to the meaning of the festival's name. The aforementioned assemblies reflect the old tradition which included the people coming together on this day (it is worth noting that Lughnasa used to be celebrated only in Gaul, Britain and Ireland). During these assemblies, it was customary to resolve any tribal problems, organize business (and therefore enter into contracts, which then implied giving oral oaths rather than signing written documents), race, practice other sports, performs rituals which will ensure a good harvest in the following months, gather the fruits of nature (grain, seafood, different types of berries, apples, or basically any fruit which is ripe at this time of year) and so on.
These meetings were also huge celebrations when fairs were held so that people may show off their products and skills as well as simply socialize. People also gathered in special locations, most notably on hilltops and around sacred wells. They celebrated in many ways; with food, drink, games, competitions and even "trial marriages" that lasted a year and a day were performed on this day (though they could be annulled after this period). People had time to celebrate because most of the crops had been gathered up to this point and the cattle had been taken out into the fields. Finally, the time to enjoy the fruits of labor had arrived. Fests were the most logical result of the huge amounts of food that were stocked up, but they were and have remained the most popular way of celebrating any important event.
So if you have time and are willing to celebrate Lughnasadh in an appropriate way, here are some ideas:
- celebrate the yield and food that you have (you can even donated some food to those who are less fortunate than you)
- celebrate harvest deities and especially grain deities
- meditate on the concept of sacrifice and be thankful for the sacrifice that Nature gives every year in order to keep the natural balance
- play games and hold contests (especially in sports)
- gather fruits of the earth such as apples, berries, grain etc. and spend some time in the kitchen (an emphasized part of this Sabbat is the practice of baking bread since this is the what harvest after all)
- make decorations from what and other gifts of the earth that you can find this time of year; typically, corn dollies are made, or Lughnasadh berry bracelets (although these were usually made by young men who gave them to the women they were courting)
- light a bonfire; this was a popular custom back in the day, it was usually lit on a hilltop from where everyone could do some stargazing (another nice idea)
- wish a wish in a wishing well, or basically any well that is of meaning to you, or is an important part of the local history
- perform an appropriate protection ritual because these are very nice for this time of year
- organize a picnic or some other kind of nature gathering with your loved ones; Lughnasadh is a holiday after all which, like any other sacred day, is best celebrated in nice company with nice food
|Wreaths are an appropriate decoration for|
any Sabbat; it is just a matter of which
plants you will choose for them
(the one in the picture is made of
lavender and wheat).
|Drying herbs (especially spices) is another|
normal practice for this time of year when
everyone gathers as much of the earth's gifts
as they can for the oncoming winter.
|You can always try to make a corn dolly. It can|
be a simple one like in these drawings...
|...or quite a complicated one like this if you|
have the time and patience to make it. :)
|You can pick fruits (remember, this is also the |
beginning of grape season) and enjyo them....
|...or bake bread if you feel like carbs. ;)|