By Kristin Olsen
A time when the sun shone brightly on the Emerald Corridor
Welcome the Way of the Celts, land of myth and fantasy. Let us journey into the long awaited Summer Season for the Emerald Isle and the Celtic Lands. After the spring ends, the planted fields grow and springs forth majestically and love and light fill the valleys and shine across the hillsides down to the Irish Sea. The ancient tradition of Lughnasa or in Gaelic Lùnastal (August) is celebrated around the end of July or the first of August. The festival was associated with water and earth, corn, flowers, harvest, plants, streams and mountains. Come join me now as we dance along green emerald paths past lilies, dandelions and daisies into the world of Celtic renewal. Open your eyes wide as we explore, learn and grow and discover that all things are possible if you see it so.
Lughnasa was one of the four main festivals of the medieval Irish calendar. Lughnasa seemed to be celebrated as a time of community gatherings, market festivals, reunions and handfastings. The long months of waiting for the harvest and the hunger associated with the previous months were now over. The celebration and majesty that surrounds Lughnasa is a blessing of thankfulness for the harvest and crops and plenty that will now be given from the land to the people. It is interesting that flowers and corn are a prominent Lughnasa theme in ancient times and into the modern era. The modern Christian feast of the Assumption of Mary on August 15 is also closely associated with flowers and corn customs. This could be another wonderful example of the Christians in St. Patrick’s time borrowing Pagan festivals to teach the Irish about Christianity.
The name Lughnasa was derived from Lugh, a Tuatha De Dannan king. Lugh’s mother, Tailtiu, died around the month of August so to honor her Lugh held a sporting contest at what is now Teltown, Co. Meath. The contests consisted of hammer throwing and tossing the caber or long sword. It is possible that modern Highland Games originated from these Tailtiu games. When Christianity spread through the lands of Erin and the ancient Celtic civilizations, Lugh’s place was taken by monks and saints such as St. Patrick and St. Brendan.
Today in Ireland you can still find celebrations and festivals that honor the ancient traditions Lughnasa or the Christian tradition of the Assumption of Mary. The summer months are a grand time for fairs and celebrations because the weather is usually mild and pleasant. The Puck Fair, in Killorglin, County Kerry is one of the best-known traditional fairs when a male goat is crowned as king for three days and known as ‘ King Puck’. Lughnasa Sunday is known as ‘Bilberry Sunday” in many districts of Ireland. An interesting tradition is to climb the mountains to collect fruits that might represent the first harvest pickings. In yet other parts of Ireland the closest Sunday to Lughnasa was known as Cally Sunday. It was the traditional day to harvest the first of the potato crop. In some parts of Ireland people continue to celebrate the holiday with bonfires and dancing. The Catholic church has established the ritual of blessing the fields on this day. In the Irish immigrant families in other countries including the United States and Canada, the Lá Lúnasa festivities are traditional times for family reunions and parties. Today, in Ireland, Lughnasa celebrations are largely replaced by Garland Sunday. It is celebrated on the last Sunday of July and is a bank and postal holiday.
Enjoy the delicious Potato Dumplings, Fruit Lemonade, and Bailey’s cookie recipes below. Find a hilltop or hiking trail with a stream and plenty of flowers and pack your freshly made dumpings, lemonade and cookies and take your family on a picnic to honor your Celtic Ancestors on this August day!
Irish Potato Dumplings
4 tablespoons minced salt pork
2 tablespoons onion
2 cups mashed potatoes
1 egg & 1 egg yolk
Salt & pepper
Brown onion & pork
Combine potatoes, eggs & seasons.
Mix in flour & blend.
Warp a little pork on onion center at each potato ball
Roll balls in flour.
Drop in rapidly boiling water.
Cook 10-12 minutes & serve with parsley
¼ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
12 oz semisweet chocolate pieces
2 egg yolks
¼ cup heavy cream
Melt chocolate pieces, Bailey’s and heavy cream together over very low heat. Wisk in yolks. Wisk in butter. Remove from heat when thickened. Refrigerate for several hours until firm. Make into balls and roll in powdered sugar.
Strawberry Mint Tea
Fresh Strawberries (mash and heat to boil, strain off juice) 2 cups juice
2 cups sugar
3 mint tea bags
After you have mashed and strained the Strawberry juice, put the juice back in the pan and add 2 cups sugar. Heat to boil again. Add tea bags. Boil about 8-10 minutes. Use 2-4 tablespoons of the syrup to 8 oz of water, mix and add ice. You can save the leftover syrup for about 6 months in a jar in the refrigerator.
Join me again for more tales of the Celtic Lands. We have much to discuss, The Book of Kells, Celtic Mythology, The Claddagh, Gaelic, Poetry and Prose and perhaps even a way to see Fairies in your everyday world or how to obtain the pot of Gold from that dreaded Leprechaun. Magic and Adventure is all around you, just close your eyes, open your heart and listen to your soul. Celtic Magic is everywhere. Visit me at http://www.celticattic.com