Lammas (Anglo Saxon) or Lughnasadh (Gaelic) marks the beginning of the harvest season. The first of the grain harvest, summer fruits and vegetables were finally ready to enjoy after a lot of hard labour and care. The symbolism of this time of the year, that we all shall reap what we sow, somehow doesn't sit right this year, as we have all fallen victim to something beyond our doing. We are experiencing something that feels beyond our control. No matter how hard we have worked many have lost out and their harvest has not come home as it should. Its something our ancestors would have known as they endured pestilence, famine, wars, plagues and the devastation that a bad harvest would have on the community. The realisation that the impact of terrible events lives in communities over time and that quick fixes are hard to come by. But it is at these hard times that harvest is most significant. As we realise the things that are good in our lives, look to nature for our solace, appreciate the little things, notice the things that we usually have no time for and even look for new ways to live and survive. We can bring this years harvest home.
The 1st August was once the time that the stock was put to pasture on the hay-meadows, which remained common ground until spring. The Enclosures Act of 1604 stopped this sharing of the land that once benefited all. Until then much land was cultivated on a kind of cooperative system. Commons lands were separated by stone markers and it was said that an apple tree must be planted on the enclosed land and when in fruit its harvest would be given to the lord of the manor. The idea of community farming and reclaiming land for the benefit of many is once more becoming something we value, not only for the food it can give us but the benefits of shared toil and collaboration on our mental and physical health.
Harvest traditions of leaving corridors of grain for the field spirits to escape through, ceremoniously cutting the last sheaf to mark its importance, carrying the sheaf with pride of place on the wagon, making dollies or plaits of the corn, making a special harvest loaf were just some of the traditions people took part in because they understood the importance of their harvest each year. They marked the passage of their time of toil and hard graft with times to look forward to and celebrate. Nature was honoured. We can learn so much from these past customs and that no matter how hard things seem we will have good times to look forward too. We will honour nature too.
There is nothing more beautiful than the Barley-corn fields moving like waves as the warm wind travels over them as they ripen ready for harvest. It is such a reminder of the cycle of the seasons as we move through summer and point towards autumn. Lammas is also the time we have the Country Wisdom & Folklore diary ready to share with you all. We had collected all the information pre-lock-down thankfully. The months of absolute freedom and spontaneity seem a long time ago as we travelled the British Isles talking to wonderful people collecting their stories and seeing sites of history and importance. We put it together in early spring and were completing it as Lock-down began and we wondered what would happen and if it would ever be printed. But now at Lammas and with thanks to our local printers very hard work we have our harvest brought home. The 2021 diary is filled with hope, it is as kind to the environment as we can make it and it asks you all to mark the year and celebrate with us and our ancestors in honour of the rich bounty of Mother Nature, that is and always will be with us, if we take time to notice her and if we pledge to nurture & protect her. Thank you all for supporting our endeavour to keep the old ways alive and celebrate the year x