August 1 is Lammas Day. This holiday was once an agricultural festival in parts of Europe, marking the end of cutting hay and the beginning of harvesting wheat and other grains. As the midpoint between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox, Lammas Day was well-placed for an excuse to celebrate, but the day has fallen into neglect in recent times.
Solstices, equinoxes, and the midpoints between them were always excuses for a party, although no single culture observed all eight occasions. Christianity successfully overwhelmed the winter solstice with its celebration of the Incarnation of Christ, being the twelve days of Christmas; likewise, the spring equinox was overshadowed by the feast of the Resurrection of our Lord, or Easter. A few contemporary Christians back away from those celebrations out of fear that our revelry has been tainted by pagan customs. Paul wrote to the Colossians that Christians are not to judge one another regarding food (kosher laws), Sabbaths (Saturday, Sunday, or some other time in the week), or holidays. We are free to celebrate as we wish, provided that Christ remains at the center of our celebrations.
In the United States, Memorial Day and Labor Day have replaced the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox as the start and end of summer. Independence Day, on the Fourth of July, has become the new midpoint for the summer season. The other three midpoints linger on the calendar as Groundhog Day, May Day, and Halloween. Lammas Day is forgotten, and the month of August is barren of days to celebrate. Some of us have birthdays and wedding anniversaries in August, and many families mark the month of August as back-to-school time. Poor Lammas Day has nothing to connect to those themes and observances.
On my Facebook page this morning I said a few words about Lammas Day. I also claimed that the harvest workers would dance in the fields, singing this song (click here). Maybe, just maybe, we can work together to create a new Lammas Day tradition to share with our families and friends, another day on the calendar for us to stop, relax, and rejoice. J.