Well, it’s Lammas already – not quite autumn (for me anyway) but a definite nudge to make the most of whatever summer that remains (or, in the case of our summer in Scotland so far, whatever we might actually still get…)
Make Bread While the Sun Shines
For anyone new to or unfamiliar with the festivals (and I would recommend Ronald Hutton’s Stations of the Sun for anyone wanting to learn more about the history, evolution and development of various annual festivals in Britain) this is a type of harvest festival, where we give thanks for the bounty we are (hopefully) about to reap and reflect on the hard work that has gone into achieving it. This is / was symbolised by loaves baked from the first of the harvest; Loaf Mass -> Lammas.
I grew up in a small town surrounded by various farms so this time of year was very literally about bringing in the harvest but coincidentally (?) also marked the end of summer holidays and a return to school, so while the farmers were bringing in crops we were collecting school uniforms and gym kits and talking about digging the jumpers out from the backs of the cupboards. Each in their own way an acknowledgement of the slide towards winter, a need to start the preparations for the cold season to come.
A Little Party…
Of course in Edinburgh the beginning of August heralds quite another kind of festival, or festivals to be more accurate. The whole city will be crammed with shows, venues, performers, tourists (and as a result there will be a mass exodus of locals, but hey). I love Edinburgh during the festival, people from all over the world coming together to experience ideas, art, humour and humanity. In many respects it’s a world away from the quiet, reflective sentiment of Lammas but on the other hand it is the fruition of (at least) a year’s worth of effort for most, the culmination of their hard work all brought together in a massive celebration of diversity, possibility and engagement, providing us with the memories, the ideas, the stories and creativity to help us through the deep dark. And this would also have once been a large part of Lammas, with bards and music and dancing, a last chance for a big party since by the time the harvest was over the weather would often have turned too unreliable for such gatherings to be possible.
Let It Shine
All of the festivals lend themselves to a combination of both celebration and reflection and Lammas is no exception. The saying of course is ‘make hay while the sun shines’ – unfortunately while there can be no meteorological guarantees, this is a great time for really appreciating all your achievements so whatever rewards you are reaping take the time to make the most of them in whatever way suits you best!