Creating family traditions or finding ways to celebrate the festivals with children can be tricky. Here are some ideas from the children and families team on how they celebrate with their children, aged 7 months to teenagers.
This year will be the first time I’ll be celebrating Lughnasadh with my little boy. He’ll be 7 months old so he’s still learning the basics of life, let alone religion! We are lucky to be spending some family time in Spain this month, where my family is currently growing crops on their farm. This year I have some very low energy plans for Lughnasadh, mainly because my little one does not fully understand what we will be doing and the fact we are with non Pagan family members. We will spend some time at the farm, walking through the crops and seeing what we can harvest. I’ll be letting him explore the different plants, fruits and vegetables that are growing all around him. I want to bake some scones or some oat bites with him and play happy music. Then for bedtime I plan to read him about the God Lugh and explain about deity and why we have done the activities we have. That will be about it really, since I don’t have my altar out here or any tools. Also my other family members don’t understand Paganism, some don’t even know I’m Pagan. Sometimes it’s nice to do something low energy, especially with a young baby who can be unpredictable with their needs. I hope this helps other young families who might feel like they have to do it all this Lughnasadh. Just enjoy being with family and deity.
Love and light!
My little dilophosaurus will almost be 3 this Lammas, so still not really aware of the festivals yet and I’m still finding my way celebrating with a toddler. Normally for Lammas we would be camping with lots of other Pagans for a big celebration together, with stalls, workshops, drumming and dancing round the fire and a big ritual (at which last year my little dilophosaurus was the risen Barleycorn). Obviously this year the camp has been cancelled and so I need to get more creative than normal. I will keep the theme we have at camp and retell the story of John Barleycorn, we might even make some masks and act bits out. Part of the ritual normally would be the burning of offerings and wishes for the next turn of the wheel and coming year; again I will recreate this in our own way, leaving some offerings on our family altar and lighting the fire for our wishes. We will also have a special meal, something we really like but is a real treat (this is usually some sort of roast dinner as it’s the only time I can be bothered to put the effort in to making them).
Something that many people aren’t aware of is that Lammas, generally celebrated on August 1st, is also Yorkshire Day!
My family have lived in Yorkshire for generations and I consider myself a Yorkshire lass to the core!
So, to celebrate Lughnassad, which is also the first of the three generally celebrated Pagan harvest festivals, we take our children to a different Yorkshire landmark or historical place every year. Last year we went to Nidd Gorge, a few miles outside Harrogate. The place is teeming with wildlife, water, trees and spiritual energy but beware of the steep inclines and mud!
The year before we went to the Yorkshire Farming Museum, which is also the site of a set of historic villages. Here they’ve refreshed a Viking, Tudor, Roman, Stone Age and Iron Age set of villages for children to explore, with a farm and even a miniature RAF base (WW2 style!).
This year, however, alas, we shall be stuck at home, where we’re shielding from the current pandemic! So we’ll be celebrating with a hearty stew in giant Yorkshire puds and seeing who can sound the most Yorkshire all day whilst watching Yorkshire themed television!
Ah, that’s not a bad way to spend tha’s time, like.
The Irish Celtic festival celebrated at the start of August is Lughnasadh or Lúnasa. It’s a festival held around the same time as Áenach Tailteann. This was a celebration started by the Celtic god Lugh, known for being skilled in many things, to honour his foster mother. Competitions and games were popular around this festival. I try and follow this tradition with the kids. We go out and play if the weather is nice. We’ll run races, throw frisbees, fly kites. We have friendly competitions but we don’t take it too seriously. Our focus is friends, family and fun.
We also try and eat well. One of our favourite ways to eat at Lúnasa is to gather a few folks together and all bring a plate. It’s a way that everyone can show off their cooking skills, and it’s an amazing way to share with each other. There’s usually a good mix of sweet and savoury, plus some interesting drinks for both the younger ones and the grown ups
With my eldest child, who’s ten, I like to go foraging. At Lúnasa, some of the local blackberries have just started to ripen, and there are raspberries to be found, too. As well as these fat, glistening gems, we look out for salsify starting to seed, hawthorn and rowan berries just reddening, and the swelling of the apples on the tree at the corner of the street.
It’s the perfect time to examine the turning of the world and the wheel, to point out the harvest to the kids, and to let them find their own magic in the changing of the seasons.
In our family, Lammas is usually the time that the apples on our tree are ready to harvest, so the two have become somewhat synonymous in my mind. My children are ten and seven and have done a little ritual and some meditation but mostly our family celebrations are still based on meaningful action. We’ll harvest the apples and give thanks for them and for all the other abundance which is around us, within and without. As we eat the first of the apples, we’ll talk about what we’ve achieved this year and what has challenged us and celebrate both. We might light a fire in the chiminea, write down what we are banishing and what we are wishing for and send our intents up in smoke. Adding intent to everyday acts is a brilliant way to introduce children to magic as well as to the power of ritual.
Beyond our own garden, we might go on a foraging walk, following our favourite paths to gather the blackberries we’ve been watching ripen through the weeks of lockdown. One of the gifts of lockdown for us, as for so many, has been spending even more time out of doors and getting to know our local nature even better and I’d like to find a way for us to honour that. So we might take a libation, visit our favourite trees, and spend some time with them. Informal and intentional because no matter what else, I want my children to grow up with an awareness and a reverence for the everyday magics.
Celebrating Lughnasadh with Tweens & Teens
As a solitary practitioner, when my kids were little, most of my festival celebrations revolved around arts & crafts, baking and walking in the woods with them. We would talk about the changes they could see around us, I found and read (or wrote and read) stories to explain the different festivals’ meanings from the point of view of my path.
Heading into senior school, they both decided Paganism was not for them, one now does not believe in any Gods and the other is undecided. For me, this change of opinion meant I had to find other ways to celebrate that didn’t involve them, but I liked the time I had with them. So, my other option was to find activities they would still like to do with me, that wouldn’t seem too religious for them and still had meaning for me. I decided to follow the old adage ‘less is more’.
It wasn’t difficult to find a way for all of us to feel we had had a say in how our time was spent together. I do not insist the kids join me, there is more an open invitation, however, we found a compromise that suited everyone.
Firstly, as avid campers, we’ve had more than our fair share of campfires and it is one of these things that always brings us together as a family. Luckily, being of a Celtic persuasion, fires are very important.
Secondly, food is the centre of many celebrations and I wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel.
For our house Lughnasadh celebrations are quite simple. In the week before, we choose a bread-based food, we’ve had Cinnabons, pizza, malt loaf to name a few, and this is cooked from scratch. It is then enjoyed, all together, around a large fire in our back garden. It is my opportunity to spend time with them and feel like I still get to celebrate.
As my two have grown up, we have had to compromise, this is ours and I feel it is a good one.