As a festival Lammas has virtually dropped off the radar. Even when I was a child Lammas, the first day of August, was probably only noted by Accountants for it was one of the Lady Day quarter days of the year and books had to be audited accordingly. But to think of it as a religious festival was not something that would come to mind for 99.9% of the population even then. However, that is its historical context.
Lammas was the festival of the First Fruits, when people gave thanks for the beginning of the year’s bounty being gathered in or harvested. It was the first day of autumn! Yes, really. Today, when people still haven’t had their summer holidays, it is out of sync to call it autumn time, but in the old calendar the autumn season was centred about the September Equinox, so August the first was the first day of that season.
Of course nowadays even the main harvest festival has lost so much of its significance, so Lammas doesn’t get a look in. Yet in the pre-Christian years the harvest meant life or death for a community and so Lammas was a herald of things to come, good or bad depending on the harvest. There would have been no going to the local supermarket for the odd packet of frozen peas – at any time of the year. The pea harvest would probably have been in full swing and been an indicator of the general state of play. So, I wonder what the message would have been if this year was anything to go by?
After so many weeks of very hot weather the vegetable garden at the Mill is looking a bit sorry for itself. The root crops have just sat there doing nothing, the raspberries, being a woodland plant, have shrivelled even before truly forming, and the beans look like stick insects. The only things that have done well have been the peas (except the last pick that didn’t develop) and the courgettes (for some unknown reason).
If we were living in those pre-Christian times then I would be extremely worried and preaching a message of doom, doom, we are all doomed. However even today I warn you that those supermarket prices will soar, especially the price of carrots. Doom!
Happy (Lamentable) Lammas