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 Post subject: On Stranger Tides Tidbit #19 ~ Lammas Eve/Day
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 1:25 pm 
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I can't find the exact quote from the book, I believe it was when Elizabeth and Bonnet were discussing their escape plans. It is not terribly significant to the story but I didn't know what it was so...



Lammas Day definitions:

Lammas: commemorates Saint Peter's miraculous deliverance from prison; a quarter day in Scotland; a harvest festival in England

An August Feast Day of the Middle Ages

Lammas Day was one of the oldest medieval festivals, a feast with pagan origins. It was a celebration of the end of the growing season and the gathering of the harvest.

The feast was particularly anticipated because it marked the end of the ‘hungry gap’, the time of year when food stocks were at their lowest, just before new produce was available at harvest time.

The Origins of Lammas Day

The feast of Lammas, celebrated on 1 or 2 August, is believed to date back to the reign of King Alfred of Wessex, in the ninth century. It began with a tradition in which the first loaves baked from the harvest were blessed in church, to celebrate the safely gathered crops. However, pre-Christian communities also followed the practice of giving thanks to their gods for the new harvest.

The bringing in of the harvest was a true celebration for medieval communities. Right up until the day when the crops were harvested, a terrible disease or storm could blight the crops within hours and leave the community destitute until the next harvest.

The Importance of the Harvest in Medieval Times

When it was time to bring in the harvest, most members of the community played their part. Whatever occupation each person followed for the rest of the year, everyone’s labour was needed for the important harvest weeks.
The crops were gathered and bound, then loaded up to be stored indoors. Any failure in the process could literally mean a food shortage or even famine. On the other hand, a good harvest could lead to surplus produce to sell on outside the community.

When the first crops were safely in, the uncertainty about food was over for another year and Lammas Day celebrations could really be enjoyed.
The festival had a strong religious element of thanksgiving and the first loaves of the harvest were brought into church, which may explain the word ‘lammas’, meaning ‘loaf Mass’.

Following the formalities of presenting the loaves, the community celebrations would continue in parties and gift giving. In some areas, there was a candlelit procession with the loaves and some of the bread would be saved to provide good fortune for the next harvest.

Medieval Rituals and Superstitions Attached to Lammas Day

There are many rituals and superstitions attached to the Lammas feast, some of which appear to be pagan in origin. The corn dolly was a figure made from the first straw of harvest, which was stored during the winter and buried with the first planting of the new growing season.

Another tradition was for the first loaf of the harvest to be allowed to go stale and then scattered around the corners of the barn where the harvest was stored. Many people believed that Lammas was a fortuitous time to predict future love matches, perhaps because the feast celebrated fruitfulness and plenty.

Lammas as a Quarter Day

Although food and drink played a big part in the Lammas celebrations other less pleasant duties also had to be carried out. Labourers were often required to present a portion of their harvest to their landlord on Lammas Day. Lammas was traditionally one of the quarter days on which rents and taxes were collected.

Agriculture played a big part in medieval life and the harvest was one of the highlights of the medieval calendar, taking its place alongside other feasts, such as May Day. Perhaps handing over a portion of the harvest, or a payment of rent to a landlord would have been a less onerous task on a day so given to enjoyment and the anticipation of days of plenty to come.



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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Tidbit #19 ~ Lammas Eve/Day
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:47 pm 
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The celebration sounds nice but the fact that rent and taxes are due might put a damper on it.



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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Tidbit #19 ~ Lammas Eve/Day
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:17 pm 
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Who wants to celebrate that? :lol:



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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Tidbit #19 ~ Lammas Eve/Day
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:23 pm 
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I found where it was mentioned in the book, although I don't have my book with me to cite a page number. It was in the section where Davis and Shandy were talking about having to be in Florida to meet up with Blackbeard by Lammas Eve (or Day).

I had no idea what Lammas day was, so thanks for the tidbit, DITHOT!


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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Tidbit #19 ~ Lammas Eve/Day
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:40 pm 
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Thanks, T. I wish Amazon had the search feature on this one!



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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Tidbit #19 ~ Lammas Eve/Day
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:30 pm 
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Interesting tidbit - had never heard of Lammas Day either. Of course have heard of rent and taxes!! :grin:


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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Tidbit #19 ~ Lammas Eve/Day
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:18 pm 
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I've always been one for exploring the ancient underpinning of old festival days, must be the anthropology major kicking back into gear. In any case, Lammas Day points back to an earlier Celtic feast day called Lughnasadh in Ireland, Lunasdál in Scotland, and Laa Luanys in the Isle of Man. (In Wales, this time is known simply as Gwl Awst, the August Feast.) It was held on August 1st and takes it's name from the Irish god Lugh. Here's a little description of this festival from an Irish perspective: Lughnasadh, pronounced loo-nas-ah, is a traditional time of the year that was dedicated to the Irish Sun God Lugh. During this time, the people of Ireland joined together for the Celebration of the Harvest, during which Lugh was said to rain down a golden light upon the year's crops, blessing them for harvest. In honor, the Irish played many games and sports for Lugh and his well received blessings; this acted as a way to send the participants' energies and wishes up to the Gods, as well as give themselves a well-needed break before the upcoming toil of harvesting and surviving the cold, harsh winter ahead. Essentially, this is the Thanksgiving of ancient Ireland. They say Lugh dedicated this festival to his foster-mother, Tailtiu, the last queen of the Fir Bolg, who died from exhaustion after clearing a great forest so that the land could be cultivated. When the men of Ireland gathered at her death-bed, she told them to hold funeral games in her honor. As long as they were held, she prophesied Ireland would not be without song. Tailtiu’s name is from Old Celtic Talantiu, "The Great One of the Earth," suggesting she may originally have been a personification of the land itself, like so many Irish goddesses.
See more here:

Lughnasadh is one of four important Celtic feast days, the others being Imbolc (Feb 2nd) better known as St. Brigid's Day, Beltaine (May 1st) which marked the return of the power of the sun and was celebrated with bonfires along the tops of hills and Samhain (Nov 1st) with Haloween, or All Hallow's Eve occurring on the eve before. Together they are often referred to as the Wheel of the Year.

The corn dolly comes more specifically from England’s “Harvest Home” the name given the traditional English harvest festival which celebrates the last day of harvest which is actually later in the year, say end of September. Using the last sheaf of corn from the field folks would create a small doll which represented the ‘spirit of the field’. Here’s what I found on this: "An old woman, who in a case of this nature is respectable authority, at a village in Northumberland informed me that, not half a century ago, they used everywhere to dress up something similar to the figure above described at the end of Harvest, which was called a Harvest Doll, or Kern Baby. This northern word is plainly a corruption of Corn Baby, or Image, as is the Kern Supper, which we shall presently consider, of Corn Supper……(and) "In some places, an Image apparelled in great finery, crowned with flowers, a sheaf of corn placed under her arm, a scycle in her hand, carried out of the village in the morning of the conclusive reaping day, with musick and much clamour of the reapers, into the field, where it stands fixed on a pole all day, and when the reaping is done, is brought home in like manner." More on this here:

Finally, to put all of this in a wider context, a new piece that looks at harvest festivals around the world.



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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Tidbit #19 ~ Lammas Eve/Day
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:04 pm 
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I remember that lammas was associated with the first of August (the feast of St. Peter in Chains), and Lammastide with that week -- maybe from the old Latin Mass missals. The had lots of arcane information in the small print, like Candlemas day and Gaudete Sunday.

Or maybe just from countless historical novels. Never heard of the "loaf mass," so thanks for that information. Strange to think of summer being a time of food privation.



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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Tidbit #19 ~ Lammas Eve/Day
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:23 pm 
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Thanks so much for the extra info!

Here is an image of some English corn dollies on exhibition:

Image



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