Harvest Festival in Ireland.
Crops are harvested in August.
The time marks also the onset of autumn in Ireland. Traditionally a festival is held when the harvest is in – called Lunasa in Ireland. The celebration happened on either on the last Sunday of July or the first Sunday of August all around the country. While much of this tradition has died out, memories remain.
In some places, the day was marked by gatherings on mountains or by lakes too.
The whole community were all involved in gathering the harvest. The cutting of the caillech the last sheaf, was accompanied by a special ritual. The sheaf was then decorated and placed above the table during the celebratory festival meal.
Customs varied. In some areas men and women wove beautiful “Harvest knots” from straw. See above image where several versions are illustrated During the festival these knots were exchanged as tokens of love and courtship. This special folklife tradition inspired my sterling Harvest Knot pendant, see below.
This tradition of making “harvest knots” and other straw articles survives in Northern Ireland and England.
Examples of rural crafts and “harvest knots” of many types, are on display in the National Museum of Ireland Decorative Arts and History, in Dublin, and in the Museum of Country Life, Co. Mayo. Demonstrations are held there regularly showing how the knots are constructed.
Information from Guide to the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life.