Lammas is written about several times in the Anglo - Saxon chronicles, where it is called the, " Feast of first fruits ". William Shakespeare speaks of it in Romeo and Juliet when he says, " Come Lammas Eve at night shall she be fourteen", ( referring of course to Juliet ). There is written an Anglo - Saxon charm which tells you to break bread into four pieces, on Lammas, and place them in each corner of the grain barn, to protect the grain yet to be harvested.
The early grain harvest also marked the end of the raiding season in Viking times. Viking warriors were required to return home to help with the harvest, and tend to the crops at this time. Hopefully they would also bring home with them the gold and other items of wealth captured during a successful raiding season. I am sure their would have been homecoming celebrations, and many tales told around the fires, of their bravery in battle, and the glory of their victories.
I thank many Gods and Goddesses during my Hloaf festival. First Great Mother Earth Jord, without whom there could be no chance of life giving grains . Also I thank shining Sunna for the warmth and light that provides the photosynthesis that allows plants to grow. Freyr is next because he provides the nourishing rains. Freyja I thank for the way she lovingly sees the plants through to their fruition. Sif is the Harvest Queen, and I honor her as such. I honor Mighty Thor for protecting the crops from pests and disease. Finally, I thank Odin and Frigga, for our lives and all the gifts they have given us as their children .
Last year I baked some of those rolls that take just a few minutes to make in the oven, but this year I am going to be a little more ambitious. I am going to try and bake a loaf of bread. O'k I bought the easy bake rolls too just in case ! For my Hloaf Festival meal I will eat only breads, vegetables, and fruits. I buy my vegetables and fruits at a local farm stand to make sure they are fresh. I feel that items just off the tree, or out of the ground are an important symbolism for a harvest festival. I put out an extra plate for the Gods and Goddesses and this I use as part of my ritual, which I hold before I eat .
For the ritual I break my bread and spread it over the ground. This I do to represent, my giving back an offering of grain to Mother Earth. I then pour blessed water, I use a Thor's Hammer to bless it, in honor of the life sustaining rains. I also ask the local Land Wights to watch over our land and crops, and thank them for their past help. I then leave the plate of food out for the Gods and Goddesses, and Land Wights. I also make a speech to the Gods and Goddesses, and my ancestors, all of whom were farmers, but that is a private matter I will not share. Always use your own words for rituals, the Gods and Goddesses DO NOT WANT TO HEAR YOU USING SOMEONE ELSES WORDS ! To me to do so is to dishonor the Gods and Goddesses.
Thank the Gods and Goddesses we no longer feel the pangs of hunger, or the diseases that come from malnutrition. But during the Viking Age hunger, malnutrition, and disease were all too common. If you want to read about the effects of hunger on a population, simply pick up any book on the Greenland settlement started by Eric the Red. Climate change forced many away from Greenland, and the rest did not survive their ordeal. We should think of them as we take in every mouthful of food this day ! May you all enjoy your Hloaf Festivals. Happy Lammas !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love and Thor' s protection !