Learn about Irish harvest traditions and folklore.
Lúnasa marked the onset of August, autumn and the harvest season. It was celebrated either on the last Sunday in July or the first Sunday in August. In some areas the day was marked by gatherings on mountains or at lakes while in others it was a traditional day for harvest fairs.
The whole family and community helped with reaping the harvest. The cutting of the last sheaf, often known as the cailleach, was accompanied by a special ceremony. This sheaf was often decorated and hung above the table at a celebratory harvest meal.
In some areas men and women decorated pieces of straw to make ‘harvest knots’ to be exchanged as tokens of love and courtship at the harvest festival.
Autumn was also a time for pilgrimage, patterns (communal visits to holy sites) and prayer. In addition to patterns to local holy wells some people went on pilgrimage to famous sites such as Croagh Patrick and Knock in Co. Mayo and to Lough Derg in Co. Donegal.