Monday, August 1, 2011

Lúnasa 2011

So, if you believe in the idea that holidays ought to be evenly dispersed throughout the year, as I do, and you think the pagans knew how to party, then the holiday after Midsummer is supposed to be on August 1st.

August is a month that seems to resist holidays. They just slip right off of it, like a child on a slip n' slide. Maybe it is because it has this feeling of being an entire monthlong holiday already; kids are out of school, Europeans take the entire month off and go to the beach; it is hot and the days are long.

In any event, many many cultures, past and present, celebrate the first of August. It has a bunch of different names: The Irish call it Lúnasa, the ancient Irish called it Lughnasadh, Catholics call it Lammastide or Lammas. It's a transitional holiday, moving from Summer to Autumn and it traditionally corresponds with a blessing of the fields and crops and celebration of the first harvest of the season.

The holiday was, for the Celts, related to the god Lugh, who is often thought of as the Celtic version of Odin, who is often though of as the Norse version of Mercury, who is often though of as the Roman version of Hermes, who is often thought of as the Greek version of Egyptian Thoth. And all those dudes are cool; gods of secrecy, of knowledge, of poetry, of travel and journeys. I dunno, make a loaf of bread in the shape of a caduceus or something.

People eat bread ("Lammas" is a contraction of "Loaf Mass") and have bonfires and the usual sort of thing, I guess. But, for me - maybe because I live somewhere were, on August 1st, it is so hot that it is like living inside a hairdryer turned on to high - it is hard to conceptualize having a harvest festival. What I'd prefer is a Neptunalia, with terribly wasteful amounts of water dumped, sprayed, thrown, and poured on me.

But the main thing is to think about Lúnasa or Lammas as the official holiday for the high summer. It is hot and it won't last much longer and you should probably have a party.

And if that party mainly consists of sitting on the lawn in a lawnchair, sipping a gin and tonic (with a splash of Campari, please), while the sprinklers are on and soaking you, know that that is called "Sussudioing" and is the sport of kings.

These guys could definitely go for some Sussudioing.

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