Lammas, Loaf-Mass or Lughnasadh, is the festival of the First Harvest; the days are slowly becoming shorter now that Midsummer has past and gone, and preparations are beginning to be made for the winter months to come. Held on August 1st, around half way between Midsummer and The Autumn Equinox, Lammas is a celebration of abundance and thankfulness.
Late Friday afternoon, the day before Lammas, we decided to gather up our baskets and make the walk to do a little more wildcrafting of the bilberries (we had stumbled upon a huge bilberry patch, interspersed with heathers and smatterings of foxgloves that mark the beginnings of the moorlands on our walk a couple of weeks ago) for our celebration. The walk, just behind our home, leads us up through the woods to the moors, and it's a beautiful route.
Closely related to blueberries, which are native to North America, bilberries are a smaller, softer and jucier dark purple-blue berry. There is evidence to suggest, according to folklorist Máire MacNeill, that along with offerings of the first corns, bilberries were traditional faire on Lughnasadh, and the size of the crop was said to foretell how well the rest of the crops would fare later on in the year. Our gathering was abundant and plentiful which felt additionally potent our harvest being on the day of a Blue Moon.
Lammas morning, Bryony made us some really delicious vegan banana and bilberry pancakes and a bilberry compote with some of our spoils. The rest of my bilberries are awaiting their chance to be baked into some delicious goods, which I'll share with you in my next post.
I was excited to make my first ever bread from scratch this year for Lammas, creating a delicious spelt and honey dough using one of Bryony's recipes and shaping it (somewhat crudely) into a harvest mouse before baking it and subsequently sacrificing it to my knife, a spread of dairy-free butter and my stomach. It turned out beautifully, and it was wonderful to be in a room where the bread was baked, the scent filling the air, and oh so satisfying to break open the bread and for it to be so warm and steaming straight from the oven. It really is the little things in life that please me so!
Photography credits: Badger Dubhghaill
I hope that you all had a wonderful Lammas if you celebrate; I'd love to hear how you did.