The ancient Celtic holiday Lughnasadh is dedicated to the beginning of the harvest. It has mythological roots and is closely related to pagan beliefs, but some people celebrate it to this day. Neo-pagans attach particular importance to it.
Exactly when Lughnasadh appeared is unknown – it is only clear this holiday originated long before the penetration of Christianity into Ireland. According to the mythological version, the holiday was established by the god of crafts, Lug, in memory of his mother Tailtiu, who died of exhaustion, clearing the expanses of Ireland for pastures.
Many rites were associated with Lughnasadh. This is the ritual cutting of the first spikelet, and feasting on the first fruits, and the sacrifice of a bull. Traditionally, the holiday was celebrated on the tops of the hills – mysteries related to Lug took place there. One of the most frequent themes of such mysteries was the battle for grain: Lug had to overcome another god in order to take grain from him and bring it to humanity.
Many Lughnasadh traditions survived well into the 20th century.
- Lughnasadh is famous for its unpredictable weather; there are even sayings about it.
- Many mountain peaks of Ireland were conquered on this very day.
- Historically, Lughnasadh has often hosted matchmaking.
- With the advent of Christianity, many of the rites associated with the holiday were Christianized and acquired a new meaning, but people did not turn away from the holiday itself.
How to take part
Nowadays, many Irish people no longer celebrate Lughnasadh. Although the holiday is very important for neo-pagans, the majority of the population either does not celebrate it at all, or celebrate it symbolically, without strict adherence to rituals. Nevertheless, many festivals and events take place around the country on this day. Mountain pilgrimages and fairs are organized; one of the most famous fairs is the Puck Fair in Killorglin. Recently, traditions dedicated to Lughnasadh have been revived.
When is Lughnasadh celebrated in 2023?
Lughnasadh is observed on August 1 each year.