Third Cross-Quarter Festival

Calan Elfed (Welsh), Lughnassadh (Gaelic), Oinacos Lugous (Gaulish), Freyfaxi/Loaf-fest (Norse), Tvastr’s Feast (Vedic), Lammas (neo-Pagan).

The first of the grains are ready and the hard work to collect it begins.  The threat of a bread famine – of not having sufficient grain to last the summer – has past.  The last of the old grain is mixed with the new grain and is baked into bread and brewed into ale to celebrate the new harvest.  This is the first of the harvest festivals and a time for sharing the fruitfulness of the initial harvests.

Some Neo-Pagans celebrate Lammas as a celebration of the bounty brought to the life by the union of the Goddess and God.  It is the first harvest when the plants of spring begin to drop their fruits and seeds to ensure a future harvest.  The God also begins to die as daylight decreases and the nights grow longer.  The Goddess watches in sorrow at the dying God, but with joy, she realizes he lives on inside her as her unborn child.

In Celtic lore, this festival is named after and sacrifices are made to Lugh Lamhfhada (Lugh Long Hand), but may have been originally in honor of his foster mother, Tailitu.  Tailitu was a royal Lady of the Fir Bolg, possibly the Queen.  After the defeat of her people, she was obliged to clear a vast forest for the purpose of planting grain and she unfortunately died during her task.  She was buried within a very large mound, upon which the first Lughnasadh festival, also known as the ‘Tailltean Games’, was held.  Contests of skills, games, and feasts of the first harvest (wild and cultivated) were activities that made up this event.  It seems logical that as time passed, the activities would alter from only honoring Tailitu and her sacrifice to include the work and sacrifices of those who provided the food for the community.