Two ancient festivals with similar purposes are celebrated on August 1. Lammas is one of the four major pagan festivals originally celebrated in Britain and now celebrated in other countries, including the United States. During medieval times, loaves were baked from the first grains of the harvest and blessed in a church ceremony known as the "loaf mass". Many believe that "lammas" is a shortened form of "loaf mass". Others attribute "lammas" to a combined form of "lamb" and "Mass" which reflects a time when lambs were offered as a tribute to feudal lords.
Lughnasadh (LOO-nah-sah) marks the beginning of the last quarter of the Celtic year. The festival is associated with the Irish god Lugh, or Samildanach, which means "hev of many gifts". Lugh held funeral games in honor of his foster-mother Tailtiu, the goddess of agriculture who died while clearing the Irish forests in preparation for planting.
Both festivals celebrate the fruits of the harvest with games and contests and a magnificent feast. In this sense, the celebrations are similar to the American Thanksgiving holiday and the Jewish Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot.
Matthews, C. (1996). The Celtic Book of Days. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books.