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Lughnasa: Festival of the Harvest (A Druid’s Perspective)

By Morgan

Lughnasa is also called Lughnasadh, Lunasa, Bron Trogain, Lunsadal, Laa Luanys, Calan Awst, and Gouel an Eost, and Alexei Kondratiev conjectures that the Celts of Gaul may have called this celebration Aedrinia (Kondratiev, 1998) . The Irish name of the festival, Lughnasadh or Lughnasa, can be broken down into Lugh Nasadh and translated into either Middle or Old Irish as the assembly of Lugh or the funeral assembly of Lugh. The connection to a funeral assembly undoubtedly references the belief that the celebration was originally created by the god Lugh as a memorial for his foster mother, Tailtiu, after her death, and the assembly of Lugh is thought to refer to the many athletic games and competitions associated with the harvest fairs that occurred at this time. Several of the other names for the holiday are references to the beginning of autumn or of the harvest.

Of the four fire festivals of the Irish Celts, Lughnasa has some of the least mythical associations, appearing only in the Lebor Gabala Erenn as the date that the Fir Bolg invaded Ireland (MacNeill, 1962) . In modern practice, Lughnasa is celebrated on August 1st, however there is evidence that the date of Lughnasa would actually have represented the starting date of a series of festivals and fairs, rather than a single, one day, celebration with harvest fairs associated with Lughnasadh, called Oenacha which themselves may last for several days, appearing as late as August 12th (MacNeill, 1962) . In modern Irish the word, Lunasa means both the first of August and is the name for the entire month of August.

It is also the practice on the Isle of Man to celebrate Lughnasa, or Laa Luanys as it is called there, on August 12th every year, likely due to the discrepancy created when the calendar shifted from the Julian to the Gregorian, and there are also some hints that the dates may be hard to pin down because they were originally based on a lunar reckoning that is now lost (MacNeill, 1962) . It is generally agreed though that no harvesting should be done before the correct date, represented by Lughnasa, and that to harvest before Lughnasa is both bad luck and the sign of a bad farmer or poor housewife (Danaher, 1972) . This folk belief persisted even into the 20th century and indicates the strong connection between Lughnasa and the harvest.

Read the original article at: Witchvox

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