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Ideas For Your Lammas Party
The sabbat of Lammas, which occurs on August 1, is the First Harvest that heralds the reaping of the cereal crops of wheat, barley, and maize. Lammas is the sabbat that feels the most like a county fair replete with feasting and good-natured competition. It can be a giddy event infused with the rowdy, high-spirited energy of the young trickster sun-god Lugh. Those from Irish-centric pagan traditions will recognize his name as the root of the word Lughnasadh, which is another name for Lammas. Think of Lammas as a time of harmless boasting and friendly competition. After all, the god Lugh is known for trying to out-fight, out-drink, and out-prank everyone else around. And what better time for a party? Here are some ideas to consider for your Lammas sabbat party.
Invite your guests to bring a dish to share for a potluck meal. In particular, they should bring pie, beer, or bread for a judging. After all, harvest is the time to gather and admire our crops, which are at peak perfection and meant to be shown off and judged at county fairs. As the guests arrive, gather the food into the kitchen for later. When everyone is assembled, the day’s events can begin. Note: If you wanted to actually turn this Lammas celebration into a kind of county fair, you could sell tickets as a great way to raise money for your church (say, if you are a pagan group being hosted by a Universalist Unitarian church) or coven.
First, do the religious portion of the sabbat. This would be a Wiccan ritual of thanksgiving to acknowledge the turning of the Wheel of the Year and the significance of Lammas. In addition, you might have a handfasting (Wiccan wedding) to perform because Lammas, as with Beltane, is a traditional time for that.
Choose a Ruler of the Harvest. This could be a young man who volunteers to be king. Have him crowned with a wreath of wheat, herbs, or flowers at the conclusion of your Wiccan ritual from the previous step. Or you might want to have your guests compete for the honor. Declare an official games time. The man or woman who can beat everyone else at something like garden quoits, hoopla, horseshoes, croquet, or lawn bowling is crowned Ruler of the Harvest. He or she will preside over the night’s events.
Do the symbolic reaping of the last sheaf of the harvest. In the old days, field workers covered the grain fields and systematically reaped until only the last few stalks were left. Then important rituals centered upon cutting down the last sheaf. The Ruler of the Harvest should gather everyone around and say a few word of thanksgiving. Then he or she should cut the sheaf, hold it up for viewing (everybody cheers!), and then carefully put it aside to be made into an effigy and kept until next year. If you don’t actually have grain in the fields to use, the Ruler may cut some decorative grasses that look like wheat or even trim some herbs such as chives or rosemary from a container. Whatever he or she cuts should be long enough to make into an effigy.
After these important events, your Lammas sabbat can turn to lighthearted fun in which the guests compete in the spirit of the young God to win prizes and outdo each other. Here are some ideas:
Games to win a prize include ring-a-bottle, which is like ring-toss but the winner keeps the bottle, which could be filled with anything from beer to bubble-blowing soap. Also consider bobbing for apples or the carnival cakewalk, which is like musical chairs. Players walk in a continuous loop over two rows of squares as music plays. Each square contains a number and each number is assigned a prize. The music stops and everyone freezes, standing on his or her square. The Ruler of the Harvest reads out a number at random and awards a prize to the person standing in the square with that number.
Cooperative games such as tug-of-war or the three-legged race are always fun. One ancient Lammas tradition involved crowing a wild goat King of the Harvest, and another centered on releasing a sheep in the marketplace to be taken home by whoever could catch it. Nowadays, guests can do a sack race or a three-legged race to see who can catch the Ruler of the Harvest who scampers around the lawn unimpeded (except for being outnumbered). The one who manages to touch or grab the Ruler becomes the recipient of his or her blessings for the coming year – made doubly potent because the winner has worked hard to earn it!
Next comes the tasting and judging with prizes given by the Ruler of the Harvest to the best beer, pie, and bread. The potluck feast follows.
After supper, everyone can dance to live folk music. Because Lammas is a fire festival, you can build a bonfire, though it is not commonly done perhaps because of the late summer heat. But it can be fun to wear down the night around a bonfire, telling stories in honor of the god Lugh’s storytelling prowess. The stories can center on ghosts, fishing, past parties, old legends, or whatever you wish. May your Lammas party be joyful.
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