AskDefine | Define Lammas

Dictionary Definition

Lammas n : commemorates Saint Peter's miraculous deliverance from prison; a quarter day in Scotland; a harvest festival in England [syn: Lammas Day, August 1]

User Contributed Dictionary

see lammas



from Old English hlafmæsse (loaf mass, harvest festival)


  1. (England) former festival held on 1st August celebrating the harvest.
  2. 1st August, a quarter day
  3. In the context of "paganism": A modern pagan festival celebrated in early August celebrating the start of the grain harvest.

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

In English-speaking countries in the Northern Hemisphere, August 1 is Lammas Day (loaf-mass day), the festival of the first wheat harvest of the year. On this day it was customary to bring to church a loaf made from the new crop. 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 new fruits was performed annually in both the Eastern and Western Churches on the first, or the sixth, of August. The Sacramentary of Pope Gregory I (d. 604) specifies the sixth.
In mediæval times the feast was known as the "Gule of August", but the meaning of "gule" is unknown. Ronald Hutton suggests that it may be an Anglicisation of gwyl aust, the Welsh name for August 1 meaning "feast of August", but this is not certain. If so, this points to a pre-Christian origin for Lammas among the Anglo-Saxons and a link to the Gaelic festival of Lughnasadh. 'Gule' could also come from 'Geohhol' (Old English form of 'jule') and thus Lammas Day was the 'Jule of August'.
There are several historical references to it being known as Lambess eve, such as 'Publications of the Scottish Historical Society' 1964 and this alternate name is the origin of the Lambess surname, just as Hallowmass and Christmas were also adopted as familial titles.
People in the Southern Hemisphere that celebrate Lammas do so February 1, to reflect the 6 month offset of seasons on the other side of the planet.


Lammas is a neopagan holiday, being cross-quarter holiday between the Summer Solstice (Litha) and Fall Equinox (Mabon). It is opposite Candlemas or Imbolc, in early February. Lammas takes place with the Sun near the midpoint of Leo. Candlemas takes place with the Sun near the midpoint of Aquarius.

Other uses

Lammas is one of the Scottish quarter days.


  • The Stations of the Sun, Ronald Hutton, Oxford 1996
  • (1.3.19),Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare, "Come Lammas-eve at night shall she [Juliet] be fourteen."
  • 'Publications of the Scottish Historical Society' 1964

See also

External links

  • Pretanic World Pre-Christian Holidays & Pre-Christian Traditions of Christian Holidays from Britain and Ireland
Lammas in Spanish: Lammas
Lammas in Italian: Lammas
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