The Wheel of the Year – Lughnasadh

Tis the time, the first harvest, when many European Peoples would have celebrated the first fruits of their labour. Some traditions have celebrations centred around walking up hills, and others of grain and bread. Perhaps in truth, over time humans of Northern and Western Europe have just perhaps found ways to gather, and break bread as a community, as the last days of summer begin their decline towards fall.

In many of these same cultures, handfasting and engagements would be finalized, pacts and contracts settled, or deals waged with handshakes and promises of things to come.

Lughnasadh, or Lammas, is exactly opposite Imbolic (February 2nd) –

In Irish mythology, the Lughnasadh festival is said to have been begun by the god Lugh (modern spelling: Lú) as a funeral feast and athletic competition (see funeral games) in commemoration of his mother (or foster-mother) Tailtiu. She was said to have died of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture. Tailtiu may have been an earth goddess who represented the dying vegetation that fed mankind. The funeral games in her honour were called the Óenach Tailten or Áenach Tailten (modern spelling: Aonach Tailteann) and were held at Tailtin in what is now County Meath. The Óenach Tailten was similar to the Ancient Olympic Games and included ritual athletic and sporting contests. The event also involved trading, the drawing-up of contracts, and matchmaking. At Tailtin, trial marriages were conducted, whereby young couples joined hands through a hole in a wooden door. The trial marriage lasted a year and a day, at which time the marriage could be made permanent or broken without consequences. A similar Lughnasadh festival, the Óenach Carmain, was held in what is now County Kildare. Carman is also believed to have been a goddess, perhaps one with a similar tale as Tailtiu. After the 9th century the Óenach Tailten was celebrated irregularly and it gradually died out. It was revived for a period in the 20th century as the Tailteann Games.




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