Lammas (sometimes called Lughnasadh is the first of the three harvest festivals, the second being Mabon and the final harvest festival Samhain, more commonly known as Halloween. Lammas, celebrated 1 August is a cross quarter day, the midpoint between the longest day of the year (Litha Midsummer) and days and nights being of equal length (Mabon).
Lammas (translated from “loaf mass”) marks the gathering of the first of the year's crops and celebrates the bringing in of the first harvest. Traditionally it would be a chance to look ahead to the Winter months and see what supplies could be harvested to sustain families over the cold half of the year. For the modern pagan it is an opportunity to take stock of your life, to see what you have reaped from the seeds of intent planted and nourished from the year so far. It is a time to evaluate and to make any changes needed to survive the harder months ahead.
Lammas is a time of plentiful abundance and revelling in nature's bounty. As such, this particular sabbat is associated with feasting and crafting. There is an emphasis on using what the earth has given us to celebrate. Baking bread is a popular activity of choice, particularly as the corn and wheat crops are among the first to be harvested and time nicely with Lammas celebrations. As with all the harvest festivals there is a focus on giving to those less well off and many Pagans will acknowledge Lammas with donations of money or food to charities.
Witches and Pagans may well make a corn dolly from the reaping of the corn harvests. The spirit of the corn is represented by the doll and then released by burning at Imbolc the following year to ensure another good harvest. The corn dolly is also used to represent the transition of the Goddess from maiden to mother to crone. The seeds of this year's harvest will be the bearer of next year's crops. In this way, the Goddess is preparing herself and the earth for rebirth. At Lammas the corn dolly represents the Goddess in all her aspects as one cycle of life ends, creating another.
Lammas marks the turning of the power of the Sun God who reached the height of his powers at Midsummer. His fires are now fading as he sacrifices his powers at the culling of the corn. His powers will now continue to fade until death at Samhain, to be reborn at Yule as the wheel turns back from the longest night into lighter times.
Image http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1397776 (amalrik)