The beginning of August is Lammas from Anglo-Saxon hlaf-mass, "loaf-mas", the festival of the wheat harvest. In pagan culture, the festival celebrates in thanksgiving for the fruits of the harvest which had been given by the long days of the Sun. This is a place of in-between; the summer sun can be at its strongest and often interspersed with the storms of Lammas tears.
The season is dedicated to the Celtic god, Lugh; who offers his life to be reborn in the harvest and the goddess, Demeter; who offered her daughter Persephone to the lord of the underworld for the months of winter.
This was the time when, on the highest of hills, the Harvest King or Queen would be seated in a throne of late summer flowers and sheaves of wheat; a sacrifice of thanksgiving from the community. Whether this became an actual 'sacrifice' is lost in the legends of time and was later baptised by the raising of Celtic Crosses on 'hills' of stone steps in the village square.
Wheat is usually the first harvest of the autumn. Bread would be made from the first pickings and used as a protective charm around the barns and houses, with an expectation that, as long as the bread was there, no-one would go hungry.
In Celtic Christianity, very little changed - a loaf would be made from the first pickings of the crop and brought into church for the Mass. The loaf was blessed, and divided amongst the congregation; it would be kept in the home as a symbol of the sharing of God's blessing. In every Mass we give thanks to God who gives us the food and drink that we need to live.
As Christians we should be aware of the generosity of our God, Lord of all Creation. Particularly in these times when there are many of us who live well and often, because of processed and fast foods, without any knowledge of where our food comes from. It would be good to take a moment sometime today to realise that even the most basic of foods has a life in God; has come to us through a cycle of life that has spanned centuries; that belongs to a pattern of interdependence that we are a part of - not in charge of.
You may not have a field to harvest, or the wherewithal to bake the first loaf of the season. Perhaps instead, take a moment at mealtimes to consider our food; how it comes to us; how we would be without it; how we could share it - and to give thanks.
Blessing of the Seven Days
that bring the world to life
Blessing of the Sun and Moon
that bring the seasons of the world
Blessing of the Earth and Rain
that form the cradle of the world
Blessings of the Seed and Shoot
that find birthing in the world
Blessing of the Harvest
that celebrates its life
by giving it away.