In August many pagans and polytheists celebrate the summer festival of Lughnasadh. Here are eight things to know about the holiday:
1. Lughnasadh, also called Lammas, falls on August 1, roughly halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox.
2. The name of the holiday derives from Old Gaelic and is a combination of Lugh, a Celtic god, and násad, or assembly.
3. The holiday honors Lugh, the Celtic god of light, but it also celebrates his mythical foster mother Tailtiu, who is said to have cleared the lands of Ireland to make way for the planting of crops.
4. Modern pagans celebrate Lughnasadh as a harvest festival, when the first crops of the year would traditionally have been reaped.
5. Lughnasadh’s alternate name, Lammas, derives from the Old English term for “loaf mass.” It originated from early English celebrations of harvest time, during which loaves of bread were consecrated.
6. One of the earliest references to the holiday is a 15th century version of a medieval Irish legend, Tochmarc Emire. The saga suggests that the holiday celebrated the god, Lugh’s, wedding feast. Other legends, though, attribute the origins of the holiday to a mythical funeral rite Lugh held in honor of his mother, Tailtiu.
7. Many pagans and polytheists celebrate the holiday with feasting, songs, and games. Some honor the harvest roots of the holiday by baking breads and cakes.
8. Lughnasadh is one of eight pagan holidays, along with the fall equinox, Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, the spring equinox, Beltane, and Litha.