Lughnasadh – August 1st

The grains are ripe for us to harvest. Our trees and gardens bear forth the fruits of summer. This is the time of Lughnasadh.

Lughnasadh is the Celtic harvest festival and it takes place on August 1st, it takes its name from the Irish God Lugh, one of the chief gods of the Tuatha De Danann, giving us Lughnasadh in Ireland, Lunasdal in Scotland, and Laa Luanys in the Isle of Man. (In Wales, this time is known simply as Gwl Awst, the August Feast.)

Lughnasadh is the word we use for the funeral games of Lugh the Irish Sun God (pronounced Loo). The celebration is not for Lugh but for his mother Tailte, the last queen of the Fir Bolg, who died from exhaustion after clearing a great forest so that the land could be cultivated. Tailtius name is from Old Celtic Talantiu, The Great One of the Earth, she may originally have been a personification of the land itself.

As autumn begins to emerge, the Sun God has now become old, he is not yet dead though. Lugh symbolically loses some of his strength as the Sun rises farther in the South each day and the nights grow longer.

As the years passed, traditions surrounding the feast at Tailte began to solidify into events and ceremonial activities designed to celebrate not only Tailtiu and the bounty of the harvest that her original sacrifice provided but also to honor the work and sacrifice of human beings as they strove to provide sustenance for their families and community.

Here is a traditional Irish recipe that my Grandmother used to make, its pretty simple to do and tastes really good.

Boxty (Potato Griddle Cakes)

1 cup hot unseasoned mashed potatoes
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup grated unpeeled raw potatoes
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup milk
Butter or margarine, for frying

In large bowl mix together mashed potatoes and 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir in the eggs and grated potatoes, then the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Blend in milk. Put 1 tablespoon of butter on a hot sizzling large nonstick frying pan. Drop the potato mixture, about 2 1/2 tablespoons at a time, making small pancake type boxties. Flatten slightly. Fry over medium-high heat until crisp and browned, turning once. Repeat with remaining potato mixture, adding butter to the frying pan as needed. Serve hot.

An old Irish rhyme :

Boxty on the griddle,
boxty in the pan,
if you can’t make boxty,
you’ll never get a man.

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