Lammas

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In some English-speaking countries in the Northern Hemisphere, August 1 is Lammas Day (loaf-mass day), the festival of the wheat harvest, and is the first harvest festival 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 latter being the feast of the Transfiguration of Christ). The Sacramentary of Pope Gregory I (died 604) specifies the sixth.[citation needed]

In mediæval times the feast was known as the "Gule of August", but the meaning of "gule" is unclear. Ronald Hutton suggests that it may be an Anglicisation of Gŵyl Awst, the Welsh name for August 1 meaning "feast of August", but this is perhaps an overly-complicated extraction. Most etymological dictionaries give it an origin similar to gullet; from O.Fr. goulet, dim. of goule "throat, neck," from L. gula "throat,". One can see why Hutton feels differently as this Welsh derivation would point 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'.[citation needed]

There are several historical references to it being known as Lambess eve, such as 'Publications of the Scottish Historical Society' 1964 and this alternate name is the origin of the Lambess surname,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.

Contents

Pre-Industrial

In The Every-Day Book by William Hone (published: 1838), he speaks of a festival common among Scottish farmers near Edinburgh that happens on August 1, or "Lammas Day." He says that they "build towers...leaving a hole for a flag-pole in the center so that they may raise their colors." When the flags over the many peat-constructed towers were raised, farmers would go to other's towers and attempt to "level them to the ground," which, if successfully attempted, 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 arrival of unwelcome guests. They were also allowed to then physically defend their towers, and the battle would turn into a "brawl." According to Hone, more than 4 people had died at this festival, and many more injured. At the end of the day, races were held, and prizes were given to the townspeople.

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