Lughnasadh: 12 Easy Ways to Celebrate the First Harvest
Lughnasadh is celebrated annually on August 1st in the Northern Hemisphere. And on February 1st in the Southern Hemisphere. This is a time when Summer is beginning to wane, and the harvest season begins. A time when the Wheel of the Year turns once more and beckons us to feel the sun’s warmth on our faces. To feel the spicy pull of the summer season before it melts into Autumn. A time to harvest from the seeds we planted early Spring. To prepare for the changing of climate. Learn ten easy ways to celebrate Lughnasadh here.
What Is Lughnasadh?
When summer is at its peak, when the berries are ripe for the picking, and when we are basking in the sun’s warmth it’s time for celebration; our ancient Celtic ancestors celebrated with a holiday they called Lughnasadh. This was the first harvest celebration of the year, and marked the time when the crops were first harvested. Some were enjoyed immediately, while some was stored for the coming winter. Lughnasadh is a Pagan and Wiccan sabbat and is part of The Wiccan Wheel of the Year.
Lughnasadh is halfway between the Summer Solstice (Litha) and the Autumn Equinox (Mabon). Another name for this day in England is Lammas, which means Loaf Mass. The name Lughnasadh translates roughly to Lugh’s Assembly, as this popular Celtic god was honored on this day. Offerings were given to Lugh including the first harvested fruits and grains and a sacrificial bull. These offerings were taken up onto hilltops and mountains, closest to the sun, and therefore closest to Lugh. Lugh would then be pleased and energized and ready to fight off evil that could cause a bad harvest. And therefore Lughnasadh was a sabbat in which the people sought protection over their crops AND prosperity.
Who is Lugh, the Bright One?
The sabbat Lughnasadh is named for Lugh, the Celtic God of the Sun and harvest. His name literally means “Bright, Shining One”, and his energy is inextricably linked to the sun. (In fact, if you work with Lugh in your practice, meditating and invoking his presence while sunbathing is particularly powerful.) Lugh is a god of many skills, including talents in both war and craftsmanship. Part of the Tuatha de Danaan, Lugh is considered an ancestor to some of the old Irish families, according to Celtic Irish mythos. His Welsh counterpart is Lleu, the bright-haired son of the goddess Arianrhod, who is also a deity that rules over the sun and fertility of the land.
The Morrigan: Macha’s Reign over Lughnasadh
According to Laurie Cabot, official witch of Salem, The Morrigan is also a large part of the Lughnasadh celebrations and harvest season. More specifically, when she manifests as Macha, the goddess of war, sun, and birth. From her book Celebrate the Earth, Macha “is forced to race against the King of Ulster’s horses while she is pregnant. She gives birth to twins. As she delivers, she curses the men of Ulster…and becomes Queen of Ulster for seven years…Macha shapeshifts into a crow–a common appearance on both the battlefield and in the cornfields of Summer.”
Lughnasadh Magical Correspondences:
Easy Ways to Celebrate Lughnasadh in Modern Times
Whether you’re solitary or part of a coven, there are SO many great ways to celebrate this sabbat. If you’re family is also pagan, include them in the festivities. Or if you live alone, include a friend or your pet!
1. Berry Picking on Lughnasadh
The berries ripen at this time of summer, and so traditionally they are also harvested. A great way to celebrate Lughnasadh with a friend or with your family is by finding a local berry farm and going berry picking! You will be harvesting your own fruit and partaking in an ages-old tradition that your ancestors may have done years ago. If you live in a wild place, perhaps you’re able to find a wild blackberry, blueberry or raspberry patch. Partake in the deliciousness of your harvest, but don’t forget to save some berries for the next easy way to celebrate Lughnasadh!
2. Make a Pie
The perfect way to use your harvested berries is to bake them into a pie! Not a baker or chef? Don’t worry about it being perfect. Buy a ready-made pie crust from the grocery store and look up a recipe online for blackberry pie. Or if you’re really brave, make the entire pie from scratch, just like your granny used to! After making your Lughnasadh berry pie, save it for dessert and share it with your family. Dedicate to Lugh or to the harvest gods and goddesses of your choice. Don’t forget to offer a piece to your ancestors.
3. Bake Bread
If you don’t want to make a pie but you still want to be traditional, now’s the time to bake a loaf of bread. Again, Lughnasadh was the first harvest sabbat when crops were first cut down. Often the grains were baked into a bread and shared among the family. Try your hand at baking your own cinnamon raisin bread, banana bread, zucchini bread, or a traditional wheat bread. Honor Lugh by leaving the first slice aside for him. This is honored in the other name for Lughnasadh which is Lammas, which meant loaf-mass.
4. Hill Climbing: A Lughnasadh Tradition
It was tradition to get as close to the sun as possible on the sun holidays. Lughnasadh was one of those days when the sun was celebrated and honored. Our ancestors encouraged the sun to stay high in the sky. In honor of the sun’s summer glory and the sun god Lugh, find a hill in your local community (the highest you can) and climb to the top. Even if it’s a small hill, the tradition of going to the top and being closer to the sun marks the sabbat Lughnasadh. And it gets you outside! In addition to climbing the hill, bring an offering with you for the sun god. A slice of bread you baked earlier or a slice of pie are perfect.
What’s one thing everyone loves to do? Eat! What’s a great reason to eat a lot of yummy, healthy food? The Lughnasadh harvest sabbat! Our ancient ancestors celebrated nearly every holiday with large feasts. Invite friends and family over and have a large potluck. Great Lughnasadh dishes include: seafood, herb-roasted chicken, bread, berries, potatoes, greens, pies, and more. Or keep it low-key, plan a Lughnasadh feast for you and your closest friends and family.
6. Start a Fall Garden
A fun thing to do on Lughnasadh is to plan or start your fall garden. This is the first harvest sabbat, so we’ll be harvesting from our spring garden, but don’t forget you can also have a fall garden. Fall gardens include vegetables and herbs that might grow better in cooler weather, such as: broccoli, onion, kale, turnips, cabbage, carrots and more. Whatever seeds you plant now should start to come up by Fall and boom! A Fall Garden will be underway. This will ensure a harvest in Autumn to prepare for the winter.
Listen to our podcast episode on Lughnasadh & Imbolc:
7. Drink Wine
Another plant that’s traditional to Lughnasadh is grapes, which also means wine! If you’re of age, an easy way to celebrate Lughnasadh is to partake in a glass or two of fine wine. While sipping, practice gratitude for the sun and the first harvest.
8. Lughnasadh Offerings
Whatever way you choose to celebrate Lughnasadh, set aside an offering for the sun and/or sun gods and goddesses. It’s because of the sun that we have food to survive. Leave aside the first slice of bread or pie. If you feast, a plate of food. If you drink wine, the first glass, Etc. Incense, candlelight, and even a song are also sufficient offerings.
9. Refresh Your Altar
One thing I enjoy doing with the turning of the Wheel of the Year is refresh my altar. This means taking everything off of it, dusting the altar and tools, then smudging and anointing with oil. In addition, re-decorating with symbols of the season is relaxing and brings a new vibe to your sacred space. For Lughnasadh, add items to your altar that represent wheat, corn, grapes, wine, berries, and the sun.
10. Prosperity Rituals
The harvest represents prosperity and abundance of blessings. Therefore, the first harvest Lughnasadh is the perfect time to perform prosperity rituals for the coming harvest and winter seasons. If you do an abundance ritual, make sure to specify an abundance of what (money, health, joy, etc.).
11. Make Sun Water
Sometimes no matter how much I want to celebrate the sabbats, I don’t have the time to do anything elaborate. One of the easiest and powerful ritual on Summer sabbats is to make sun water. Since Lugh is a god of the sun, and Lughnasadh is his feast day, anything you charge under the sun will be imbued with his energy. And with the solar energy that gives us and this planet life. Use your Lughnasadh sun water to make herbal sprays, teas, concoctions, ritual bath additives, etc. Learn how to make sun water here.
12. Meditation & Yoga in the Sun
If you enjoy yoga, take your practice outside and greet the sun on Lughnasadh with sun salutations. Or try meditating in the sunlight. You can sit directly in the sun or even catch some rays through a bright window. There have been a few times when I meditated in the sunlight and felt Lugh’s presence strongly.
Read More On Seasons & Sabbats:
- 15 Simple Ways to Celebrate Litha (Midsummer Sabbat)
- Ostara’s Meaning, Traditions and A Simple Ritual
- Sabbats Made Easy: Cheat-Sheet to the Wheel of the Year
- 50+ FUN Family-Oriented Pagan Activities for Winter