Early Wiccans celebrated "August Eve" on 1st August, now known as Lammas. It is the second of the harvest festivals, Litha being the first on 1st July and Madron, the third, celebrated on 1st September.
In the Wiccan wheel of the year, with an ever changing God, the Corn God is commemorated and sacrificed to make way for the God of the harvest. Corn is considered as an aspect of the Sun God and as such, people have made Corn Dollies in various different patterns to show the passing of this time of the year. It is also a time to celebrate the first fruits of the harvest, namely the grain, which is used to make bread.
The Celtic God Lugh is their deity of light and wisdom and this festival is called Lughnasadh in Ireland in honour of him. In Ireland, it is a time for hand-fasting, a trial marriage, which lasts for a year and a day. If the trial is successful, then the marriage goes ahead and is supposed to last a life-time.
It is a time for bonfires and dancing, a time to ask the Sun God for his blessing on the full harvest to come.
Celtic people have travelled to other parts of the world. For example, in Switzerland, August 1st is a national holiday. They celebrate it with bonfires. It is a practice that can be traced back to the Lughnasadh celebrations of the Helvetii, Celtic people of the Iron Age who lived in what is now Switzerland.
In Northern Italy, Lughnasadh traditions are still incorporated into modern 1st August festivities.
The Christian church has established the ritual of blessing the fields on this day. In days gone by, it was customary to bring to church a loaf made from the new crop of wheat. In many parts of England, tenants were bound to present freshly harvested wheat to their landlords on or before the first day of August.
So, what can we do to celebrate Lammas? We could make a harvest loaf and eat it as a sacrifice to the Corn God? We could invite our friends round for an outdoor party, weather permitting, and light a bonfire as a celebration.
We could even build a Wicker Man in the field and sacrifice it to the Sun God, although that would be a bit dangerous, wouldn't it!
Whatever you do to celebrate, have a wonderful August 1st :)