This Pagan Holiday Is Our First Reminder That Summer’s Almost Over

Photographed By Nina Westervelt.
Not only is today the last day of July and a Monday, but it also marks the eve of Lughnasadh on the Pagan calendar — a holiday that foretells the end of the summer season. You don't need to pack up the pool floatie right this minute, but this is a good time to start thinking less about your Summer Friday plans and more about the final months of 2017.
Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas, is the first of three harvest festivals observed within Paganism, Wiccanism, and other nature-based faiths. Historically, the first grains of the season were reaped around this time of year, heralding a major change in the seasons — and in people's priorities.
Back when people relied on their crops for survival in the winter months, times of harvest were simultaneously joyful and solemn, reminding everyone that they only had so much time left to prepare. Fertility rituals and tributes to grain deities were common around Lughnasadh — anything to ensure plenty of food in the last days of summer.
To this day, August is still imbued with a feeling of conclusion: Nature's period of growth and bounty, which peaked with the summer solstice, is officially over. It may be months until the leaves start to change color, but, nevertheless, the outside world is winding down and preparing to be dormant.
Although our lives no longer depend on our personal stockpiles of grain, modern-day Lughnasadh celebrations still involve ancient symbols of the harvest. It's common to bake breads and eat the last fruits and vegetables of the summer on this day, all the while reflecting on what the rest of the year holds — and how you might prepare for those events.
With this idea of preparation in mind, observing Lughnasadh can be as simple as making an August to-do list or pulling your fall clothes out of storage. And don't forget: You have two more harvest days this year — the fall equinox and Samhain — to add on to your goals and see how you're progressing toward them. Come November, you could be staring down the winter months with total confidence. Your future self, the one who's dealing with holiday party invites and convoluted travel plans, will definitely thank you.

More from Spirit

R29 Original Series