What is Lammas?

Lammastide is an ancient Christian festival which many villages and farming communities have rediscovered in recent years.

It is the festival of thanksgiving to God for the start of the harvest, where corn and bread are offered as symbols of gratitude.

The name comes from the the Old English word for ‘loaf’, hlaf, which is followed by ‘mass’, mas, to indicate a Christian festival at which the Eucharist is celebrated.

As the feast of the first fruits, Lammas may have particular significance this year for many reasons – during the recent pandemic and the invasion of and war in Ukraine there is a renewed appreciation of food and where it comes from.

Lammas is a festival that goes back to the medieval church and occurs on the 1st August. The first fruits of the cereal harvest were made into a loaf for the mass. The summer could be a lean time for food as winter stores had run out and the new crops were still growing.

It is an older tradition than harvest festivals, which celebrate the time when ‘all the harvest is safely gathered in.’

Why not bring community together, and make some bread enjoying the process the stories and the prayers that will emerge?

Or perhaps go for a walk and give thanks for those you see caring for the crops.

Revd Elizabeth Clark, National Rural Officer for the Methodist and United Reformed Churches