1st August marks Lammas in the Northern Hemisphere, which is a time of celebrating the bounty of the first harvest and beginning preparations for the coming months. It is a lovely time to stop and reflect on how much we are blessed by the earth, and focus on what we can do in return. But it can also be challenging to know how to share this with your children, can’t it?
I know I have found it difficult knowing how to celebrate the Wheel of the Year with my own child, having grown up in a family and society that barely mentions this beautiful tradition. Which is why I’ve created this post with information and activity ideas for celebrating Lammas with Kids. I hope you find it useful, and if you’d like to share your own experiences and ideas with us, please do so in the comments at the end of the post. Happy Lammas!
What is Lammas?
Lammas is one of the 8 Sabbats celebrated in the modern Pagan calendar, called the Wheel of the Year. This Wheel of the Year marks the turning of time, and celebrates the cycle of life from birth, through growth, to death, and right on back to rebirth.
It is symbolic of the life-long journeys we are all on, and is played out within our lives each and every year through the seasonal changes we see all around us. The Wheel of the Year traditionally begins at Samhain (or Halloween), when the crops have all been harvested, the leaves are falling from the trees, and the earth is returning to a state of slumber for the dark Winter days ahead.
As the Wheel turns we move through the depths of Winter into the hope of Spring, when the seeds that were planted and lay dormant over the previous months begin to burst into life. We continue on our journey as the Summer months bring abundance of life, and Lammas marks the first of the harvests.
There are generally 3 harvests celebrated within the Pagan Wheel of the Year – Lammas, or the grain harvest, Mabon (Autumn Equinox) as the fruit harvest, and Samhain as the final harvest of nuts and berries. As such, Lammas is a time of gathering sustenance from the earth, thanking her for her (hopefully) bountiful harvest, and beginning preparations for the year ahead. It is not just about reaping the rewards, we must also help the cycle continue by ensuring we leave enough seeds and nutrients in the earth for the next year’s harvest to grow.
This is what I love so much about the Wheel of the Year, the focus on the continuity of life and the dual focus on celebrating the moment whilst also remembering that what we do now will affect our future (and that of our children and grandchildren), just as what we are experiencing now has been affected by the actions of those who have gone before us. And that is the focus of our family celebrations throughout the year.
5 Easy Lammas Activities to Enjoy with Your Kids
1. Bake some bread
Lammas is traditionally a time when the first of the wheat harvest was brought in, so making bread with this wheat is a fantastic way of honouring the way that the earth sustains us throughout our lives.
If you have a local mill where you can take your kids to learn about how flour is made, even better! I remember doing this as a child and it is a great way to introduce kids to the many stages of food growth and production.
2. Go for a Walk in Nature
What better way to be present in this moment of abundance and beauty than to get out in nature and see all that the earth is providing. Here in the UK we have had quite a miserable Summer this year, with many cold, wet days and not much sun at all. So we need more reminders than ever that the Wheel is still turning and that life is still continuing.
You don’t have to go far, your nearest park will do, but for maximum joy why not find a local walk which takes you by some fields? There’s nothing more beautiful than walking beside a field of gold when the sun shines upon the grains gently waving in the wind.
Kids adore getting out and about and it is a fantastic way to let them burn off all that excess energy they seem to have over these Summer months (I suspect not being at school means they are less exhausted!) But instead of simply going for a walk, make it an intentional choice of where you go and what you do – it’s all in the intention!
3. Make a Nature Table or Altar
While you’re out and about, why not grab a few bits to take home with you to remind you of this stage of life on a daily basis? Pick flowers or herbs from the garden, collect loose stones from the ground (symbolic of the stones needed to ground grains into flour), and take photos of the crops you see growing in a field. Place these in the home, in your own Sacred Space, and remember to say thanks to the earth for all she provides.
You might also like to create a nature collage for your kids’ rooms, or let them try out other nature crafts such as making dye out of herbs and flowers, trying your hand at making corn dollies, or even making bird feeders ready for the cold, Winter months ahead.
4. Collect Seeds (and make them into Gifts) or Plant New Seeds
If you have flowers in your garden that have gone to seed, why not collect them and keep them safe ready to give as gifts to family and friends at one of the other Sabbats or Christmas? Homemade gifts are always a real treat to receive, but how much more wonderful would it be if your seeds turned into flowers in someone else’s garden? What a beautiful symbol of the continuation of life!
If you don’t have any seeds you can harvest, why not buy some that are ready to be sown in August and plant those instead? That way you are still playing a crucial part in the cycle of life, and can look back on this moment when the seeds begin to grow and bloom further down the line.
Kids absolutely love getting their hands dirty, and gardening is such a great tactile experience for them which helps them to ground themselves and connect with Mother Earth. Talk to them about how we need to tend and nurture the earth so that she can continue to provide us with such beautiful gifts. Remind them that we give, just as we receive.
5. Create your own Lammas Ceremony
This last idea is one that I really love, because you can really make it your own! For a very long time I was really hesitant about creating ceremony, because I felt like a fraud. But once I started creating my own ceremonies, reflecting on the things that were most important to me and my family, I started to truly fall in love with it.
Ceremony doesn’t have to be grand and ornate, it doesn’t have to follow any specific creed or structure, and it certainly doesn’t have to be created by someone “in the know”. These are all things I used to think about ceremony, and I was so wrong! Ceremony can be as simple as sitting down together with the intention to honour the earth. You could light a candle, write some words, say a prayer, or sing a song. It doesn’t matter… all that matters is that it means something to you.
That being said, if you’re struggling for ideas why not consider some of the following to get you started:
- Break some bread and eat it as a family, sharing your thoughts on how lucky you are to have this food on your table
- Light a candle and say thanks to the earth for her sustenance
- Write down a list of things that you will do over the coming year to honour the earth and support her (make these easy things for kids, such as litter picking in the park, establishing a “wild flower” section in your garden, feeding the birds etc)
- Create a gift of food for someone in need (or donate to your local food bank), saying a prayer over it to wish the recipient love, health, and abundance in the coming year
There really is no limit to what you can turn into a ceremony, so please have fun with this.
Want to know more about Lammas?
There are some fantastic guides available online for those interested in learning more about the Pagan Wheel of the Year, and here are some of our favourites:
The Goddess and the Green Man have written a fantastic page all about Lammas and Lughnassadh (a celebration of the Sun God, Lugh).
The Paganism/Wicca Expert on About.com has created a page explaining the 8 Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year, including Lammas.
Ozark Pagan Mama wrote a brilliant post about celebrating Lammas with Kids.