When and what was Lammas?

Medieval chroniclers have a tendency to mention feast days rather than actual dates because everyone would have been familiar with the festival – which was an opportunity to have a holiday (holy day). This post is part of a series of short occasional posts about such feast days. So far I have discussed Candlemas which falls on February 2nd.

Lammas, which turned up in a post about the death of William Rufus, falls on the 1st August. It’s an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “loaf mass.” It celebrated the first loaves made from the new grain of the wheat harvest – hopefully it meant the season of plenty had arrived once more. Some places, such as Exeter, still have Lammas Fairs. It was a date when rents were to be paid, debts to be settled and labourers hired.

The date also happens to be the feast day of St Peter in Chains so later medieval writers will sometimes refer to that rather than Lammas. Some medieval accounts of Lammas lost sight of the derivation of the word and thought that it was to do with lambs – which is logical given the sound of the word. There are other festivals associated with Lammas but this post is only concerned with dating in terms of chronicle accounts.

One thought on “When and what was Lammas?

  1. I think it still exists for Roman Catholics as have heard it mentioned by friend who is religious .Ill ask her next time we are to meet in Riga markets where all us English go for bargains in meats. 4 euro fresh corn fed chicken kilo and half best birds Buy four for 14 euro instead of 16. Big freezer is the thing to have here.

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