The history and meaning of Lammastide….
Something I had not really realised is that Lammastide is peculiar to England and Ireland. In Europe (and for many in this country) August 1st is the Feast of St Peter ad Vincula (St Peter in Chains). Lammas was an Anglo-Saxon harvest festival. But did it pre-date Christianity?
“…Despite its possible pre-Christian origins, the name ‘Lammas’ is both Christian and English: the second element -mæsse (‘mass’) was borrowed into Old English from liturgical Latin, and is only used to refer to Christian or Jewish festivals….”
The very name Lammas has a “feel” to it, something that makes it only too easy to associate it with present-day pagan thinking. No, I’m not saying that pagans of the past thought differently. I have no idea what pagans in the past thought, any more than they could have known what we in the future would think.
But this article this article (from which the above quotes are taken) goes into the subject in great depth, and makes for a fascinating read. I really did not know a great deal about it all, just the usual harvest, bread and seeking to encourage good harvests to come, etc. As to whether or not it was originally a pagan festival, well, explore the article.
I recommend the entire Clerk of Oxford website. Very informative and well written, and devoted almost entirely to the medieval period.