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Loaf Mass Day
Lammas loaf Owl with salt eyes.png
Lammas loaf owl with salt eyes
Observed by Christians (Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans) [1]
Celebrations Mass, church processions, First Fruits [1] [2] [ page needed ]
ObservancesBringing a loaf of bread made from the new wheat crop to the church for a blessing, making loaves from the grain collected at harvest [3] [1]
Date1 August (Northern Hemisphere)
1 February (Southern Hemisphere)
Related to Plough Sunday, Rogation days, Lughnasadh

Lammas Day (Anglo-Saxon hlaf-mas, "loaf-mass"), also known as Loaf Mass Day, is a Christian holiday celebrated in some English-speaking countries in the Northern Hemisphere on 1 August. The name originates from the word "loaf" in reference to bread and "Mass" in reference to the primary Christian liturgy celebrating Holy Communion. [4] It is a festival in the liturgical kalendar to mark the blessing of the First Fruits of harvest, with a loaf of bread being brought to the church for this purpose. [3]


On Loaf Mass Day, it is customary to bring to a Christian church a loaf made from the new crop, which began to be harvested at Lammastide, which falls at the halfway point between the summer solstice and autumn September equinox. [2] [ page needed ] Christians also have church processions to bakeries, where those working therein are blessed by Christian clergy. [2] [ page needed ]

Lammas has coincided with the feast of St. Peter in Chains, commemorating St. Peter's miraculous deliverance from prison, but in the liturgical reform of 1969, the feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori was transferred to this day, the day of St. Alphonsus' death.

While Loaf Mass Day is traditionally a Christian holy day, Lughnasadh is celebrated by Neopagans around the same time. [5]


Ann Lewin explains a key practice of the Christian feast of Lammas (Loaf Mass Day) and its importance in the Christian Calendar in relation to other feasts of the Church Year: [1]

August begins with Lammas Day, Loaf Mass Day, the day in the Book of Common Prayer calendar when a loaf baked with flour from newly harvested corn would be brought into church and blessed. It's one of the oldest points of contact between the agricultural world and the Church. The others were Plough Sunday in early January, the Sunday after Epiphany and the day before work would begin again in the fields after Christmas festivities, when ploughs would be brought to church to be blessed; and Rogation days in May, the days before Ascension Day, when God's blessing would be sought on the growing crops. [1]

In The Church of England, a Protestant denomination that is the mother church of the Anglican Communion, during the celebration of the Mass, "The Lammas loaf, or part of it, may be used as the bread of the Eucharist, or the Lammas loaf and the eucharistic bread may be kept separate." [6]

The loaf is blessed, and in Anglo-Saxon England it might be employed afterwards in protective rituals: [7] a book of Anglo-Saxon charms directed that the Lammas bread be broken into four bits, which were to be placed at the four corners of the barn, to protect the garnered grain.[ citation needed ]

In many parts of England, tenants were bound to present freshly harvested wheat to their landlords on or before the first day of August. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , where it is referred to regularly, it is called "the feast of first fruits". The blessing of first fruits was performed annually in both the Eastern Christian and Western Christian Churches on the first or the sixth of August (the latter being the feast of the Transfiguration of Christ).[ citation needed ]

In medieval times the feast was sometimes known in England and Scotland as the "Gule of August", [8] but the meaning of "gule" is unclear. Ronald Hutton suggests [9] following the 18th-century Welsh clergyman antiquary John Pettingall [10] that it is merely an Anglicisation of Gŵyl Awst, the Welsh name of the "feast of August". The OED and most etymological dictionaries give it a more circuitous origin similar to gullet; from Old French goulet, a diminutive of goule, "throat, neck," from Latin gula "throat".[ citation needed ]

Several antiquaries beginning with John Brady [11] offered a back-construction to its being originally known as Lamb-mass, under the undocumented supposition that tenants of the Cathedral of York, dedicated to St. Peter ad Vincula, of which this is the feast, would have been required to bring a live lamb to the church, [12] or, with John Skinner, "because Lambs then grew out of season." This is a folk etymology, of which OED notes that it was "subsequently felt as if from LAMB + MASS".

For many villeins, the wheat must have run low in the days before Lammas, and the new harvest began a season of plenty, of hard work and company in the fields, reaping in teams. [13] Thus there was a spirit of celebratory play.[ citation needed ]

In the medieval agricultural year, Lammas also marked the end of the hay harvest that had begun after Midsummer. At the end of hay-making a sheep would be loosed in the meadow among the mowers, for him to keep who could catch it. [14]

In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1.3.19) it is observed of Juliet, "Come Lammas Eve at night shall she [Juliet] be fourteen." Since Juliet was born Lammas eve, she came before the harvest festival, which is significant since her life ended before she could reap what she had sown and enjoy the bounty of the harvest, in this case full consummation and enjoyment of her love with Romeo.[ citation needed ]

Another well-known cultural reference is the opening of The Battle of Otterburn : "It fell about the Lammas tide when the muir-men win their hay".[ citation needed ]

William Hone speaks in The Every-Day Book (1838) of a later festive Lammas day sport common among Scottish farmers near Edinburgh. He says that they "build towers...leaving a hole for a flag-pole in the centre so that they may raise their colours." When the flags over the many peat-constructed towers were raised, farmers would go to others' towers and attempt to "level them to the ground." A successful attempt would bring great praise. However, people were allowed to defend their towers, and so everyone was provided with a "tooting-horn" to alert nearby country folk of the impending attack and the battle would turn into a "brawl." According to Hone, more than four people had died at this festival and many more were injured. At the day's end, races were held, with prizes given to the townspeople.[ citation needed ]

Other uses


Lughnasadh is the name used for one of the eight sabbats in the Neopagan Wheel of the Year. It is the first of the three autumn harvest festivals, the other two being the autumn equinox (also called Mabon) and Samhain. In the Northern Hemisphere it takes place around 1 August, while in the Southern Hemisphere it is celebrated around 1 February. [15] [16] [ page needed ] [17] [18] [ page needed ]

Scottish quarter days

Lammas is one of the Scottish quarter days.[ citation needed ]


Lammas leaves or Lammas growth refers to a second crop of leaves produced in high summer by some species of trees in temperate countries to replace those lost to insect damage. They often differ slightly in shape, texture and/or hairiness from the earlier leaves.[ citation needed ]

A low-impact development project at Tir y Gafel, Glandwr, Pembrokeshire, [19] Lammas Ecovillage, is a collective initiative for nine self-built homes. [20] It was the first such project to obtain planning permission based on a predecessor of what is now the sixth national planning guidance [21] for sustainable rural communities originally proposed by the One Planet Council. [22]

Exeter in Devon is one of the few towns in England that still celebrates its Lammas Fair and has a processional custom which stretches back over 900 years, led by the Lord Mayor. During the fair a white glove on a pole decorated with garlands is raised above the Guildhall. The fair now takes place on the first Thursday in July.[ citation needed ]

The Doctor Who serial The Image of the Fendahl takes place on Lammas Eve.

In the Inspector Morse episode "Day of the Devil", Lammas Day is presented as a Satanic (un)holy day, "the Devil's day". [23]

Katherine Kurtz's alternate World War II fantasy "history" takes its title, Lammas Night , from pagan tradition surrounding the first of August and the Divine Right of Kings.

The English football club Staines Lammas F.C. is named after the festival.

The Song "Corn Rigs" by Paul Giovanni, from the soundtrack to the 1973 film The Wicker Man, takes place "upon a Lammas Night."

See also

Related Research Articles

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The Wheel of the Year is an annual cycle of seasonal festivals, observed by many modern Pagans, consisting of the year's chief solar events and the midpoints between them. While names for each festival vary among diverse pagan traditions, syncretic treatments often refer to the four solar events as "quarter days" and the four midpoint events as "cross-quarter days", particularly in Wicca. Differing sects of modern Paganism also vary regarding the precise timing of each celebration, based on distinctions such as lunar phase and geographic hemisphere.

Lughnasadh Gaelic festival marking the beginning of the harvest season

Lughnasadh or Lughnasa is a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of the harvest season. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. In Modern Irish it is called Lúnasa, in Scottish Gaelic: Lùnastal, and in Manx: Luanistyn. Traditionally it is held on 1 August, or about halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox. However, in recent centuries some of the celebrations shifted to the Sundays nearest this date. Lughnasadh is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Samhain, Imbolc and Beltane. It corresponds to other European harvest festivals such as the Welsh Gŵyl Awst and the English Lammas.

Michaelmas Christian festival

Michaelmas is a Christian festival observed in some Western liturgical calendars on 29 September. In some denominations a reference to a fourth angel, usually Uriel, is also added. Michaelmas has been one of the four quarter days of the financial year.

Blessed Sacrament devotional name for the body and blood of Christ

The Blessed Sacrament, also Most Blessed Sacrament, is a devotional name used in the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, as well as in Anglicanism, Lutheranism, Methodism, and the Old Catholic Church, as well as in some of the Eastern Catholic Churches, to refer to the body and blood of Christ in the form of consecrated sacramental bread and wine at a celebration of the Eucharist. In the Byzantine Rite, the terms Holy Gifts and Divine Mysteries are used to refer to the consecrated elements. Christians in these traditions believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharistic elements of the bread and wine and some of them, therefore, practice Eucharistic reservation and adoration. This belief is based on interpretations of both scripture and sacred tradition. The Catholic understanding has been defined by numerous ecumenical councils, including the Fourth Lateran Council and the Council of Trent, which is quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Scottish term and quarter days are the four divisions of the legal year, historically used as the days when contracts and leases would begin and end, servants would be hired or dismissed, and rent, interest on loans, and ministers' stipends would become due. The Term Days are Whitsunday and Martinmas, and together with Candlemas and Lammas they constitute the Quarter Days. These originally occurred on Christian holy days, corresponding roughly to old quarter days used in both Scotland and Ireland, with White Sunday or Whitsun occurring at the Easter Pentecost and thus moving around. These were mapped from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar and fixed in 1886 as 28 February, 28 May, 28 August and 28 November, and then later ratified by the Term and Quarter Days (Scotland) Act 1990.

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<i>Blót</i> Sacrificial feast in Germanic paganism

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An artos is a loaf of leavened bread that is blessed during services in the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine rite catholic churches. A large Artos is baked with a seal depicting the resurrection for use at Pascha (Easter). Smaller loaves are blessed during great vespers in a ritual called Artoklasia and in other occasions like feast days, weddings, memorial services etc.

Feast of the Ascension Christian religious holiday

The Feast of the Ascension of Jesus Christ, also called Ascension Day, Ascension Thursday, or sometimes Holy Thursday, commemorates the Christian belief of the bodily Ascension of Jesus into heaven. It is one of the ecumenical feasts of Christian churches, ranking with the feasts of the Passion, of Easter, and Pentecost. Ascension Day is traditionally celebrated on a Thursday, the fortieth day of Easter, although some Christian denominations have moved the observance to the following Sunday. In the Catholic Church in the United States, the day of observance varies by ecclesiastical province.

Harvest festival type of festive celebration

A harvest festival is an annual celebration that occurs around the time of the main harvest of a given region. Given the differences in climate and crops around the world, harvest festivals can be found at various times at different places. Harvest festivals typically feature feasting, both family and public, with foods that are drawn from crops that come to maturity around the time of the festival. Ample food and freedom from the necessity to work in the fields are two central features of harvest festivals: eating, merriment, contests, music and romance are common features of harvest festivals around the world.

Antidoron food

The antidoron is ordinary leavened bread which is blessed but not consecrated and distributed in Eastern Orthodox Churches and Eastern Catholic Churches that use the Byzantine Rite. It comes from the remains of the loaves of bread (prosphora) from which portions are cut for consecration as the Eucharist during the Divine Liturgy. The word Ἀντίδωρον means "instead of gifts", i.e., "instead of the Eucharistic gifts".

First Fruits First Fruits are a religious offering of the first agricultural produce of the harvest.

First Fruits is a religious offering of the first agricultural produce of the harvest. In classical Greek, Roman, and Hebrew religions, the first fruits were given to priests as an offering to deity. In Christian faiths, the tithe is similarly given as a donation or offering serving as a primary source of income to maintain the religious leaders and facilities. In some Christian texts, Jesus Christ, through his resurrection, is referred to as the first fruits of the dead. Beginning in 1966 a unique "First Fruits" celebration brought the Ancient African harvest festivals that became the African American holiday, Kwanzaa.

Candlemas Christian holiday

Candlemas, also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ and the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a Christian Holy Day commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It is based upon the account of the presentation of Jesus in Luke 2:22–40. In accordance with Leviticus 12: a woman was to be purified by presenting lamb as a burnt offering, and either a young pigeon or dove as sin offering, 33 days after a boy's circumcision. It falls on February 2, which is traditionally the 40th day of and the conclusion of the Christmas–Epiphany season. While it is customary for Christians in some countries to remove their Christmas decorations on Twelfth Night, those in other Christian countries historically remove them on Candlemas. On Candlemas, many Christians also bring their candles to their local church, where they are blessed and then used for the rest of the year; for Christians, these blessed candles serve as a symbol of Jesus Christ, who referred to Himself as the Light of the World.

Eucharist in the Catholic Church

Eucharist here refers to Holy Communion or the Body and Blood of Christ, which is consumed during the Catholic Mass or Eucharistic Celebration. "At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood, ... a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'" As such, Eucharist is "an action of thanksgiving to God" derived from "the Jewish blessings that proclaim – especially during a meal – God's works: creation, redemption, and sanctification."

Lists of holidays by various categorizations.

Lity in Eastern Christianity

The Lity or Litiyá is a festive religious procession, followed by intercessions, which augments great vespers in the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches on important feast days. Following a lity is another liturgical action, an artoklasia, and either of these terms may be used to describe both liturgical actions collectively.

Christian observances of Jewish holidays

Christian observance of Jewish holidays is a practice evidenced since the time of Christ. Specific practices vary among denominations: these holidays may be honored in their original form in recognition of Christianity's Jewish roots, or altered to suit Christian theology. Symbolic and thematic features of Jewish services are commonly interpreted in a Christian light: for example, the Paschal Lamb of the Passover Seder being viewed as a symbol of Christ's sacrifice.

English festivals are the Christian and secular festivals that are traditionally celebrated in England. Most festivals are observed throughout England but some, such as Oak Apple Day, Souling, Rushbearing, Bawming the Thorn and Hocktide are local to certain regions.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Lewin, Ann (2011). Seasons of Grace: Inspirational Resources for the Christian Year. Hymns Ancient and Modern Ltd. p. 222. ISBN   978-1-84825-090-1. August begins with Lammas Day, Loaf Mass Day, the day in the Book of Common Prayer calendar when a loaf baked with flour from newly harvested corn would be brought into church and blessed. It's one of the oldest points of contact between the agricultural world and the Church. The others were Plough Sunday in early January, the Sunday after Epiphany and the day before work would begin again in the fields after Christmas festivities, when ploughs would be brought to church to be blessed; and Rogation days in May, the days before Ascension Day, when God's blessing would be sought on the growing crops.
  2. 1 2 3 Gellatly, Justin; Gellatly, Louise; Jones, Matthew (2017). Baking School. Penguin Books. ISBN   978-0-241-97878-8.
  3. 1 2 Irvine, Theodora Ursula (1919). How to Pronounce the Names in Shakespeare: The Pronunciation of the Names in the Dramatis Personae of Each of Shakespeare's Plays, Also the Pronunciation and Explanation of Place Names and the Names of All Persons, Mythological Characters, Etc., Found in the Text, with Forewords by E.H. Sothern and Thomas W. Churchill and with a List of the Dramas Arranged Alphabetically Indicating the Pronunciation of the Names of the Characters in the Plays. Hinds, Hayden & Eldredge. p. 177. Lammas or Lammas Day (August 1st) means the loaf-mass day. The day of first fruit offerings, when a loaf was given to the priests in lieu of the first-fruits.
  4. Gandolphy, Peter (1815). An Exposition of Liturgy. p. 51. Thus Christ-Mass implies that season when the incarnation and birth of Christ, are commemorated in the Mass. In the same manner are formed Candle-Mass, Michaelmas, Lammas, &c. Lammas-day for instance, which falls on the 1st of August, is derived from the Saxon word Laf, a Loaf and Mæse, or Mass: It having been customary on that day to make an offering to the Church, of a loaf made of new corn.
  5. "You say Lammas, I say Lughnasadh: Christians, Pagans embrace harvest". David Crumm Media. 1 August 2018. Retrieved 14 May 2020. For Christians, Lammas has been a time for blessing loaves made of fresh wheat. In time, Christians also created a version of the Scottish Highland Quarter Cake for Lammas, which bore Christian symbols on the top. (Catholic Culture has a recipe.) In the Neopagan and Wiccan faiths, Lughnasadh is one of eight sabbaths and is the first of three harvest festivals.
  6. "The Agricultural Year". The Church of England . Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  7. T.C. Cokayne, ed. Leechdoms, Wortcunning and Starcarft (Rolls Series) vol. III:291, noted by George C. Homans, English Villagers of the Thirteenth Century, 2nd ed. 1991:371.
  8. J.P. Bacon Phillips, inquiring the significance of "gule", "Lammas-Day and the Gule of August", Notes and Queries, 2 August 1930:83.
  9. Hutton, The Stations of the Sun, Oxford 1996.
  10. Pettingall, in Archaeologia or, Miscellaneous tracts, relating to antiquity... (Society of Antiquaries of London), 2:67.
  11. Brady, Clavis Calendaris, 1812, etc. s.v. "Lammas-Day".
  12. Reported without comment in John Brand, Henry Ellis, J.O. Halliwell-Phillips, Observations on the Popular Antiquities of Great Britain, new ed. 1899: vol. I, s.v. "Lammas".
  13. Noted by Homans 1991:371.
  14. Homans 1991:371.
  15. Nevill Drury (2009). "The Modern Magical Revival: Esbats and Sabbats". In Pizza, Murphy; Lewis, James R (eds.). Handbook of Contemporary Paganism. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Publishers. pp. 63–67. ISBN   9789004163737.
  16. Hume, Lynne (1997). Witchcraft and Paganism in Australia. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. ISBN   9780522847826.
  17. Vos, Donna (2002). Dancing Under an African Moon: Paganism and Wicca in South Africa. Cape Town: Zebra Press. pp. 79–86. ISBN   9781868726530.
  18. Bodsworth, Roxanne T (2003). Sunwyse: Celebrating the Sacred Wheel of the Year in Australia. Victoria, Australia: Hihorse Publishing. ISBN   9780909223038.
  19. Project homepage
  20. Self build central images
  21. [ Annual Monitoring Report (PDF)
  22. One planet council photographs
  23. 'Inspector Morse' The Day of the Devil (1993) Reviews & Ratings , retrieved 18 September 2017