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Monday, August 10, 2015

Dear Diary - How I celebrated Lammas Day

Posted by R. Ann Siracusa


I hope you'll excuse me for neglecting you, but my life has been on the busy side for a long time. In fact, I'll celebrate my seventy-fifth birthday on August 16, and it's embarrassing to admit I've only made six or seven entries on your pages over the last seventy years. (I couldn't write very well until I was five.)  My apologies.

My assignment this month is to write an entry for August. I'm not sure where to begin--a lot has happened in three quarters of a century--and I don't want to bore you to death, so I think I'll stick to a few important events of this month.


 On the first of August, I celebrated Lammas Day..

No, that's not just sloppy spelling. I don't mean llamas, although they're cute and probably deserve a day of celebration on their own. After all, oysters have a day; why not llamas? But I digress. I'm talking about "Lammas" of "Hlafmasse" (Loaf Mass). Still not clear? I can't imagine why. Take a look at the picture below.

Does bread deserve an observation day? (Ajugust 1 is also called Mead Day). We seem to revel in celebrations day. There is even a Sandwich Day and Panini Day; why not bread? 


Centuries ago in Britain, Lammas Day (August 1) was celebrated toward the beginning of the harvest season. The name for this day, which predates the Christian Harvest festival, is the Anglo-Saxon word Hlafmaesse or Lughnasadh in Celtic.

It began as a pagan festival of Celtic origin celebrating the Irish god Lugh. Later, the Anglo-Saxons celebrated the festival of Hlafmaesse at the same time of year to mark the beginning of the harvest when prayers of were said for the first corn to be cut.

Peasants would make bread from the recent wheat harvest and take loaves to the churches to give thanks and to pray for a good corn crop. In the medieval agricultural year, Lammas marked the end of the hay harvest that begins after midsummer. Corn and other crops were harvested between August first and Samhain, at the end of the harvest season.

Alas, after 1752, when the calendar was changed to make August 1 ten days earlier, the popularity of Lammas Day waned because not much wheat was ready for harvest by July 21.

The powers that be just have to change things and mess everything up, don't they?


Ohh! This sounds interesting.

Lammas Day was also the time for foretelling marriages and trying out partners. Young people would agree to a trial marriage which lasted for the time the festival lasted, which was about eleven days. At the end of the celebration, if they didn't get along, they parted.


Stale loaf
For good luck, farmers would let the first corn bread go stale and then crumble it over the corners of their barns. (Lammas superstition)

The Corn Dolly
Representing the spirit of the grain, the corn dolly could be small or life-sized. "The corn dolly was a figure made from the first straw of the harvest, which was stored during the winter and buried with the first planting of the next growing season." Rachael  Bellerby 

The First Footing
This is a Scottish tradition in which the first person to cross a home's threshold brings the residents good luck for the coming year. While waiting for your first guest, the Scots would place a slice of bread and a silver coin outside the door representing prosperity and warmth.

Yorkshire Superstition
For you mystery buffs, here's an idea for you. In Yorkshire, the people "believed that if a loaf of bread failed to rise, it mean there was an undiscovered corpse nearby."


I called an old friend I hadn't talked to in a long time.


My family ate watermelon in honor of National Watermelon Day. 


This Tuesday we celebrated my husband's 86th birthday. 


On August 5, I indulged in Underwear Day. Let's not discuss that!


On this day, I wiggled my toes in acknowledgement of "National Wiggle-Your-Toes Day. It's a good summertime beach activity.


Today, of course, I have my pick of several options. Later on, I intend to go to the roof of the tallest of the Smithsonian buildings (dressed as Paul Bunyan---me, not the building), to eat a bag on S'mores while I listen to a Duran Duran tape and celebrate:

National Duran Duran Appreciation Day,
Paul Bunyan Day,
Skyscraper Appreciation Day,
Smithsonian Day, and
S'mores Day.

You know, Dear Diary, this is been fun getting together like this, but things are really getting boring. I don't know about you, but I'm tired.

I'll come back another day (some time in the next decade). If you want to know what else I'll be doing this August, you can visit


Among other things, August is National Sandwich Month. What is your favorite sandwich??



Cara Marsi said...

Ann, very interesting about Lammas Day. Thanks.

Melissa Keir said...

Very fun post! I've also neglected my Diary over the years. It seems like a good idea but putting all those thoughts down sometimes seemed more like whining than actually doing anything fun!

jean hart stewart said...

Interesting infor as always, Ann. Thanks again..

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