Lughnasadh or Lughnassadh - as I've also seen it written - or just Lammas, is the celebration of the harvest. So it is said. It's not a Christian tradition or celebration, which might help to explain why my knowledge of it is so limited, though I'm not versed on many Christian celebrations either as I'm not all that much involved in my own religion either. I believe God doesn't mind, so... Back to Lughnasadh, it is a seasonal celebration that has been mantained today by the Pagan religions, such as Wicca. From what I gather from the few books I've about the subject, this is the first of three harvest celebrations or harvest related Sabbaths. I won't go in detail about it here, as I haven't researched on the subject enough and I don't wish to make a bigger fool of myself as I have probably had, so I'll go into what I've in mind about this.
After Litha this year, a friend of mine, Smurf, started sort of celebrating them by greeting me at these celebrations - and mostly talking about how awesome it would be to celebrate Beltaine. He's pretty much Christian, may be non-practicing and leaning much towards in "I believe in my aiming, my gun is my god and the bullets his archangels", but out of the blue - I think I really believes I'm a full fledged witch and Sookie is really a broom cleverly spelled to look like a car - he started greeting me. Last year my friend Alix, her family and I celebrated Halloween. Would have loved to celebrate Samhain too, but Halloween was nice enough. Anyhow, the whole matter of celebrating the seasons - particularly since here the "seasons" are unexistent by default - had always pulled me. The dressing, the different types of food you prepare depending on the season, the way you keep your home... all that has always felt just right and so magical to me. I always thought that I would love to fully celebrate each of these turning points of the year, but honestly, I'm bad at keeping dates in mind, and if it isn't marked in red in the calendar I can't remember them.
This year I marked them in my calendar, so today I had my little note in there that said "Lammas", and I smiled: it's the day of the first harvest. My dear friend Trish, who has a wonderful blog in here, called My Season's Seasoning, did a post on Lughnasadh, and I thought, why not me? Which is why we are here today.
Looking at the calendar - and I have two belonging to two different countries - I check on the holidays and basically what I see are historic celebrations. It's not a bad thing, as history is what has formed us, what has put us as society where we are today, but they are basically historical celebrations. There are also - of course - religious celebrations, but these are too history, milestone related. The birth of Jesus Chirst, His crucifixion, the celebration of the appearance of Virgin Mary or a representation of her to someone... these are historic points, and are all of them basically human-centered, human related. You could say that, well yes, cats and dogs do not observe holidays, so why would it be a celebration about the day cats dicovered how to use their claws? That's not the point. The point is that these are about either things people did to change the fate of a nation, or a marker in thre religious life of how something changed the fate of men. Basically non of them are actually a celebration about nature. Yes, we have Earth day, but how many of us celebrate it? And what it is about? People hardly take the time to show respect, reverence to nature, from which we are part.
We often celebrate the past, but leave the past in the past along with any possible lesson. We celebrate our Independence day, for instance, but don't think twice about compromising it again - be it as individuals or as society. What lessons are we pulling from it? That holidays are only a legal excuse not to go working and don't have the day discounted of your vacations lot or your wage? Many of us are not pulling from the meaning of the holidays, which is why we don't really mind not celebrating nature.
I do not need to be Pagan to hold some respect for Lughnasadh, and bring it to my life as something meaningful that can yield many lessons. As the first harvest, a celebration marked in the book as one of "sacrifice" (no animal or human sacrifice!) I'm caught by the concept that you must give in order to receive. Well, only for that Lughnasadh should be brought into the calendar. As you picture the first harvest, you may meditate on the hard work of sowing the land, preparing it, tending to it, watching the crops develop and the work hard as you reap the harvest. For that first loaf of bread from the fresh, first harvest, you must work very hard for many months. There's no instant gratification, you don't get a bonus for taking five minutes of minimal effort, but you must flex you muscles into it, work without seeing the results for many months and then, as the things grow and bloom and mature, you must keep working hard, from the reaping to the cleaning of the grain to the making of the flour to the baking of the bread, to enjoy your work's results.
It's about a job well done, about working hard and not giving up, about keeping up, about learning the true value of honest job, about doing things well not because instantly you'll get something, but because you know that all that good job ads up later to a good result.
Lughnasadh this year - the first year I celebrate it - brings to be the old values and old principles: that work in it self, hard as it might be, difficult and tiresome as it might be, is a source of pride in itself because it makes you learn about patience, time and what matters. But there's also a huge lesson there too in the other sense, and that is that as long as you know you are doing a good job, no matter how long it takes for results to show, no matter how hard it seems to sow that land, how trecherous and hard the weeds, how steep or rocky the land, if you do a good job, the seed of your effort will eventually pay, and though teh harvest will take you more hardwork, and the baking too, you can rest assured that all that good work, all that honest, sincere effort will yield you a beautiful loaf to be greatful of.
Blessed Lughnasadh to all!