By Patti Wigington
Much like Beltane was a time of gathering and celebrating the spring, Lammas has often been the time of year when people in rural areas got together with their neighbors to mark the early harvest. In parts of Europe, and particularly the British Isles, Lammas became the season for country fairs. This was partly because the herds were typically rounded up at the end of the summer, so if you had livestock to sell, a country fair was a great place to find buyers. You could bring your herds and flocks to town, pen them up for sale or trade, and enjoy some festivities in the process. Although most harvest-themed festivals came later in the year, around Mabon, Lammas was a time when everyone knew the threshing of the grain was taking place. If you had hay or straw to buy or sell, you could do so at the Lammas fair. In addition, the weather at this time of year was usually mild, which made it perfect for traveling to other villages for a celebration.
Lammas was traditionally known as a Quarter Day in Scotland. This meant that rents were collected, contracts signed, and other legal paperwork filed. These were also the four dates during the year on which servants were traditionally hired, so the country fair often took on the aspect of a job fair — by networking with other servants and house managers, one could possibly attend a fair looking for work, and end the day with an offer of employment in a landowner’s home or fields.