Ah, Britain. Home of many, many pointless and innocuous traditions: morris dancing, bottle kicking, straw bears, Christmas–it is a country steeped in bizarre and redundant rituals. Perhaps the most redundant of these is Lammas Day.
What is Lammas? We dispatched Man Cave writer and confessed Englishman Steve Stevenson to find out. Deciphered below are his notes, recovered from the charred remains of a Wicker Man somewhere in Northamptonshire. We’ll miss you, Steve.
Celebrated on the 1st of August, Lammas Day began as one of the many harvest celebrations in the Anglo-Saxon calendar, and commemorated the occasion when the first bread was made from the first of the harvested corn. By way of celebration, the Anglo-Saxons would bring a loaf of bread to church with them, because nobody partied harder than the Anglo-Saxons.
The church bread would be blessed and later used for magical purposes, such as being scattered around a barn to protect the newly stored grain. We can’t be sure what they wanted to protect the grain from, but seeing as rodents are traditionally unafraid of bread or religion, we can assume that they were mostly seeking to fend off vampires with gluten allergies.
The whole point of Lammas Day, it seems, was to build a sense of community and high spirits whilst farmers worked their fingers to tiny nubs and strained their backs to the breaking point. Perhaps in Lammas Day we may find the true origins of the corporate bonding event.
Another historically noted way of marking Lammas day was by gifting some of your hard-reaped harvest to your landlord, which squarely lands Lammas Day in the “Most Depressing Holiday Of The Year” running. Here’s what else the holiday celebrates:
Lammas Day was also a day set aside to celebrate the jail-break of Saint Peter, who escaped King Herod’s clutches when an angel busted him out of prison. History is uncertain whether or not the angel had an elaborate escape plan tattooed on his torso, so we can only assume that he most certainly did.
The 1st of August in known in Catholic cultures as the feast of “Saint Peter In Chains,” which many scholars believe was the name of the hidden track in Manowar’s third album.
In Scotland Lammas Day was traditionally celebrated by “a day of sport.” Those of you familiar with Scotland will be unsurprised that the sport involved beating the hell out of each other and that the scoring system was measured mostly in blood, but sometimes in tower demolition.
Like most Scottish public holidays, Lammas Day quickly became an excuse to beat your neighbors with impunity. This long-held Scottish tradition has transcended its Lammas Day origins and survives in the modern public holiday known as “Saturday.”
LAMMAS DAY IN MODERN BRITAIN
Now that Britain’s principal exports are misery and actors pretending to be American, most of their agricultural traditions have long since fallen into obscurity, kept alive only by men with beards, historical re-enactors, drunks or a combination of all three. And so Lammas Day has fallen out of mainstream recognition.
This is a tragedy. After all, Britain is a country still very much impressed by bread, magic and people absconding from justice. It would seem that Lammas Day is a holiday with ideals still very close to the hearts of the British peoples. To this end we propose a new Lammas Day tradition, wherein David Blaine is annually baked into a giant loaf of bread, from which he must endeavor to escape–with or without divine intervention. We’re sure that, with just a modicum of encouragement, and an extra day off, the British Isles will once again embrace Lammas Day with the same enthusiasm they reserve for Pancake Day, Whitsunday and Take A Bottle of Gin to Work Day.
FUN WITH BREAD MAGIC!
Magic performed with household items is a commendable pastime for any young man who hasn’t yet received a sharp beatdown from his peers and a stern talking to from his father. To this end, why not brighten the Lammas Day of your neighborhood’s children with a bread-related magic show?
Trick Number One: Feeding the five thousand
(may only feed twenty to twenty-five medium sized adults)
Gather your neighbors outside your house and tell them that you intend to replicate one half of Jesus’s most popular party trick by multiplying a single loaf of bread into many. Ask them to close their eyes tightly and believe in the power of bread. Then, signal to your friend on an adjacent roof-top to fire the mortar cannon you pre-loaded with cheap supermarket bread. Imagine the looks of awe on the faces of your community as they stare in wonder at a rain of bread. Burning, terrible bread.
Trick Number Two: Baguettes of Doom
A variation on the ol’ sword-through-the-box trick, wherein an assistant is placed into an upright box which the magician then skewers with swords. If the trick is done right, the assistant emerges from the box unscathed. If not, then you’ve just witnessed an appalling murder. Baguettes of Doom builds on the traditional trick by giving it the Lammas Day twist of replacing the swords with baguettes. The best part? Baguettes aren’t lethal in the slightest! Everybody gets to have fun and nobody dies. Hopefully.
Trick number Three: Bread into Toast
Admittedly we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel here (or the bread box! Ha!) but if your audience is sufficiently young or technologically disadvantaged, they may be enthralled as you place a slice of bread into the magic machine, only to have it emerge minutes later as a slice of toast. Where does the bread go? Nobody knows! And that’s the magic of Lammas Day.
<– Steve just got married, so if you’re not going to buy his book as a wedding present, at least read his guide to Get Married like a Man! so we’ll give him more work. He’s got a family to support now, after all.
Want some bacon with that bread? You’d better celebrate another oddly wonderful British holiday: Flitch Day. –>