Lughnasadh Meals: 15+ Traditional & Modern Foods for Lammas
It’s the dead of Summer and we need a break. From the heat, brutal sun, and hard work we’ve been putting into all of our goals. Lughnasadh, the first Celtic harvest of three, comes at the perfect time to break up the monotony. It reminds us that Autumn and cooler temperatures are right around the corner. It also reminds us that our hard work does truly pay off – whether in the garden or in the office. What better way to slow down life and enjoy the fruits of our labor than to have a feast on the first harvest? Here we talk about the origins and history of this Celtic sabbat, but focus on providing recipes and links to our top 15 favorite Lughnasadh meals. Both traditional and modern.
First, What is Lughnasadh?
Lughnasadh is the first of three harvest festivals on the modern pagan Wheel of the Year. It’s roots run deep in Celtic culture and tradition dating back centuries to ancient times. It was a particularly important day to our Celtic ancestors, because it was when the women rejoined the men from their summer home in the hills to aid in harvesting the first crop. And, as Summer up until Lughnasadh food was a bit scarce, it was a time to feast and celebrate the bounty of their hard work and earth’s gifts.
Old Lughnasadh Customs: Feasting and Handfastings
Obviously food and drinking has always been an inevitable part of sabbat celebrations, but there were other familial and community customs. Handfastings were common on Lughnasadh, which is a pre-marriage trial, so to speak. This was when a man and woman joined hands and gave an oath to try out their relationship for a year and a day. After that year and a day, they could choose to marry one another or go their separate ways. You can see how food and drink could play a big part in this merriment.
Lugh, the Sun, and the Elements
In addition, the Celtic people celebrated the sun in all its glory and later the Celtic god Lugh. He was a king of the Tuatha de Dannan and honed many skills. And later would be associated with the sun and solar energy. Rituals took place on hilltops, closer to the sun, or by waterside as Lughnasadh was a day of both fire and water. A sacred polarity we see showing up time after time in the Summer sabbats and festivals. Think of it like this, what do you prefer to do if you’re out in the Summer sun all day? Take a swim. Fire + Water. Other rituals involved cleansing and protecting livestock by driving cattle between two large bonfires or into the water. This ensured they were cleansed and shielded from negative energy and illness in the coming months.
Traditional Food Items and Herbs for Lughnasadh
- Bilberries and blueberries
- Barley and grains
- Fish and seafood in general
- Hot Peppers
- Sweet Peppers
- Sunflowers and sunflower seeds
15+ Traditional & Modern Lughnasadh Meals
We are believers in making your own traditions for every sabbat and holiday. So, whether you choose to recreate a traditional Lughnasadh meal this year, or go with a modern suggestion, make it your own. Add a little something extra to put your own magick into it. Even if it’s just a sprig of rosemary as garnish, a symbol drawn into the pie crust, or the way in which you stir your spoon.
1. Blackberry Pie
Blackberry pie is the quintessential Lughnasadh dessert. It’s traditional to go berry-picking on Lughnasadh in the British Isles and Ireland, whether it be bilberries or sweet wild blackberries. And, as everyone loves pie, taking your freshly picked harvest home with you and baking it into a homemade flaky crust is just the celebratory thing! Consider making blackberry wine as a Lughnasadh project.
2. Dublin Coddle
Since Lughnasadh is an inherently Celtic sabbat, we recommend cooking up a cauldron full of Dublin Coddle. This dish gained its popularity in Dublin’s pubs as a hearty dish to go along with your pint of ale. It’s a sort of stew made with beer, bacon, sausage, potatoes and onion. Typically served alongside homemade soda bread to soak it up.
3. Seafood Shepherd’s Pie
If you lived along the coastline in ancient times, you no doubt ate a lot of fish and seafood of all kinds. This rings true today, too. If you’ve ever had shepherd’s pie, you’ll know how delicious and comforting this dish is. Now, take away the beef or red meat and insert seafood instead. That’s what makes a Seafood Shepherd’s Pie. Not to mention, fish was a traditional Celtic Lughnasadh meal back in the day, as well.
4. Sun Bread for Lugh
Since the Celtic god of the sun Lugh is celebrated on Lughnasadh (as it is his namesake), it’s only right to honor him and solar energy with homemade sun bread. In addition, in the British Isles, Lughnasadh’s other name is actually Lammas, which literally translates to “loaf mass”. Bread, and grains, are an integral part of Lughnasadh Lammas traditions and meals. And a favorite of the fae and the gods.
5. Drunken Pasta
If we haven’t mentioned it before, we will now – WINE. Wine is steeped in tradition for Lughnasadh because of the time of season, berry picking, and it being a harvest festival. So, why not COOK with wine and drink it too? Our favorite Lughnasadh meal, modern and not-necessarily-Celtic, is drunken pasta. This is technically an Italian dish but consists of spaghetti or bucatini noodles drenched in a buttery, garlicky red wine reduction sauce. It’s luxurious and perfect for a Lughnasadh feast.
6. Marinated Mushrooms
Mushrooms are a traditional Lughnasadh food and were typically easy to locate and harvest in ancient times. Make this magical marinated mushroom dish as a side to go with chicken, steak, lamb, etc. You can make them ahead of time and refrigerate them or make them when Lughnasadh is knocking at the door. Either way, they’re scrumptious and easy to concoct.
7. Coq Au Vin
Again, not necessarily a Celtic traditional meal for Lughnasadh, but a meal made with red wine is cog au vin. This is a dish in which the chicken is braised with red wine and mushrooms. And sometimes garlic. Wine and mushrooms are traditional Lughnasadh foods so this fancy French dinner is perfect for a low key feast between coven mates, friends and family members. And whose recipe would be better than Julia Child’s?
8. Barley, Spinach and Mushrooms
With this side dish, we are combining two Lughnasadh foods, barley and mushrooms, with spinach. Interestingly, barley is an innate part of the old Lughnasadh celebrations because of the sun god Lugh. When he manifests as John Barleycorn, “as the corn is cut so John Barleycorn is cut down also. He surrenders his life so that others may be sustained by the grain, so that the life of the community can continue. He is both eaten as the bread and is then reborn as the seed returns to the earth” (according to Goddess and Green Man). Try this recipe by Last Ingredient.
9. Cheesy Corn Fritters
Corn is essentially the American version of barley and so is included in sabbat feasts. And, I’m sorry, but who doesn’t enjoy a cheesy fritter? Mr. Kobold is particularly fond of this cheesy corn fritter recipe by the House of Yumm. These make a great appetizer or snack. Serve with sour cream or a special blackberry chutney.
10. Honey Sunflower Seed Butter
What a perfect spread to go on your Sun Bread! Sunflowers are obviously directly linked to the Sun, which is our main focus on this first harvest sabbat. And when we take the time to make our own sunflower seed butter with honey and cinnamon (two magical Summer foods), we are imbuing solar magick directly into our food.
11. Summer Charcuterie
Our readers and fellow kitchen witches and kobolds know how much we adore charcuterie here at the Kobold Kitchen. For EVERY season and sabbat. It makes a beautiful and festive appetizer OR can be eaten as a main dish. Summer charcuterie boards might include some of the following finger foods:
- Meats: Salami, Proscuitto, Pate, Smoked salmon, Smoked ham
- Cheeses: regional cheese, goat cheese, brie, gouda, manchego, cheddar, Swiss or vegan cheeses
- Fresh and dried fruits: blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, figs, dates, cherries
- Crackers and breads
- Seasoned nuts like almonds, pecans, walnuts
- Pickles and olives
- Honey, chutney, mustard spreads, herby butters
- Garnish with wild flowers and fresh herbs like violets, sunflower petals, rose petals, lavender and rosemary
12. Skillet Chicken with Mushroom Wine Sauce (Easy Lughnasadh Dinner)
This Lughnasadh dinner reminds me quite a bit of cog au vin, but it takes a lot less time and effort. And is just as delicious. Try this skillet chicken with mushroom wine sauce.
13. Blueberry Muffins
My kids absolutely adore fresh homemade muffins. And what better way to use your freshly picked berries than to bake them into these morning treats? Try this blueberry muffin recipe and if you need a healthier option, try this recipe. Then slather in butter. Don’t forget to leave a muffin to the side for your resident household fairies and goblins. These are also great to pack for a sabbat picnic if you’re going hill-hiking.
14. Goat Cheese and Grape Galettes
The first time I’d heard of this recipe, my mouth watered immediately. Then we made it, and we were obsessed. Grapes are traditional and goat cheese is just the best. Combine them and you have an awesome option as a Lammas appetizer. Here’s our favorite goat cheese and grape galette recipe.
15. Pea Barley Risotto
Yum, risotto. Savory and creamy. We’ve talked about the significance of barley on this sacred sabbat, so I won’t explain again. But I will tell you, if you choose to make a risotto for Lughnasadh, let it be this recipe.