Sabbats, or Sabbaths, are as important to Wiccans as they are to any faith. Each of the eight Wiccan Sabbats have a special meaning based upon the time of year.
Lughnasadh is the celebration of the first harvest of the year. Traditionally, it happens at the end of July, or the first part of August. It is a time to give thanks for the fruits, grains, corn and vegetables that have become ripe for harvesting and for who have begun to drop their seeds for future crops. In ancient times, all grain was called corn whether it was wheat, barley or any other grain. It also starts the celebration of the coming end of summer and the transitioning of the Sun God, Litha, into old age.
Another part of Lughasadh refers to the Celtic God, Lugh. Sometimes referred to as the Wicker Man, the Green Man, or even the Corn man, Lugh is sacrificed each year through the harvesting of grain for the good of all the people.
Lughnasadh happens, in the modern calendar on July 31 and August 1. However, in the agrarian calendar, it happens whenever the grains in the fields become ready for harvesting. Because of the great importance of this harvest for surviving the winter months, the celebration of this became a celebration of life defeating death.
As Christianity began to take hold, the celebration was renamed Lammas, or Loaf Mass. It’s purpose has not changed; the celebration of the first harvest and the triumph of continuing life over death. Of course, the sacrifices of Lugh or a symbolic Lugh are no longer a part of the public ceremony. Yet the Wicker Man is often sacrificed symbolically by those still practicing the Old Religion.
Traditional foods used to celebrate Lughnasadh are apples, grains, bread, berries and similar foods. An appropriate meal for this Sabbat, the 5th of the Wiccan year, would be anything made from one of the traditional foods. A good example is Beef Barley Soup, one of my favorite dishes. Recipe:
BEEF BARLEY SOUP
2 Quarts of water
Beef Soup bone with meat still on
½ cup of celery tops, chopped
1 TBSP of salt
½ Tsp of fresh cracked pepper
½ cup of uncooked barley
3 cups coarsely chopped cabbage
1 cup sliced celery (no more than ¼ inch thick)
2 cups sliced parsnips (no more than ¼ inch thick)
2 cups thinly sliced onions
1 12oz can plain tomato paste
Place water, soup bone and celery tops in a large pot (at least 4 quarts).
Bring to a boil and cover, leaving a gap between the cover and the pot for steam to escape.
Reduce to simmer for about 2 hours.
Remove the bone and cut up the meat into small pieces.
Return meat to the pot and stir in the barley. Cook for 30 minutes uncovered.
Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for another 30 minutes or until all of the vegetables are tender.
Serve with fresh baked hard, crusty bread