I love the seasons. I love how they move into each other and cycle in a series of colours and changes. Although I love all of the seasons and all that they bring, we are moving towards my favourite time of the year - Autumn. Today is Lammas, the first harvest festival of the year and time of the grain harvest. It is high summer; a time of abundance and warm hazy mornings. It is also perfect for family celebrations. My little boy is a little young at the moment, but as he gets older I would like to introduce him to the cycle of the seasons and how fun it can be be to observe nature in this way. I intend to start introducing him to these celebrations next month for the Autumn Equinox, as the leaves start to turn. This is the first in a series of posts that I will doing on the traditional festivals. For now, here are some fun ways that you can celebrate the first of the harvest festivals with your family. You don't have to do these things on Lammas, but can be done on any make and they make great summer holiday activities.
As it is the time of the grain harvest, it is great to honour this by making bread and this is a fantastic activity to do with your children (or grandchildren). Kids love the process of making bread; making the dough and kneading it (a great way to burn off some of that kiddy energy), then shaping it. You don't just have to stick with round loaves - I had lots of fun as a kid making hedgehog loaves. All you need to do is form the dough into small loaf shapes before baking, ensuring that you snip some little rows of triangles along the back - these will form the spikes. You could even add raisins for the eyes.
Making Corn Dollies
This is a popular activity at Lammas. I am not 100% sure what it represents, although I suspect it has something to do with John Barleycorn, an ancient folk song (estimated to be 1000 years old) that is associated with this time of year. It looks like a great activity to try with kids and makes a fab house decoration for Lammas. This video is by Somerset Rural Life Museum and demonstrates the process of making a dolly.
Visit A Farm
There are loads of farms around that can be visited by families and make great days out - many have petting zoos and lots of other family friendly activities. If there are any farms in your area where you can see the grain fields and watch it being harvested, then all the better - this could be a great way to teach our children not only about the harvest and this time of year, but also about where our food comes from and the processes and work that is involved in making it.
Decorating The House
I used to love decorating my room for the seasons when I was a teenager and would have several Gourds and Squashes on my dresser come Autumn Equinox. Making house decorations (besides the corn dolly mentioned above) is another fun activity that the kids will enjoy. Orange is the coluor associated with this festival, so you could decorate with orange candles or paper streamers. You could also make a door wreath from wheat, grass that has gone to seed (as in the picture above) and orange flowers. You could also dry wheat or grass, tie an orange ribbon around it and hang it up.
Harvest Your Garden
If you have fruit and veg in your garden or allotment, then rope the kids into helping with the harvest (and the growing). Kids love gardening and will enjoy leanring about the process. When things go well (a rarity in our garden), they can see the results of their work by helping to harvest, store and of course, eat the produce.
If you would like to find out more about Lammas, there is lots of information about the festival on the Goddess and Green Man website. I would also like to recommend The Wheel Of The Wiccan Year by Gail Duff. It is a wonderful book, packed with ideas on how to celebrate the traditional festivals. It is also worth mentioning that there is a great article in this months The Simple Things magazine with information on the festival and ideas for celebrating it. I hope you have a fantastic Lammas!