Lughnasa Waning Honey Extraction Moon
The state fair has begun: corn dogs, cheese curds, church run restaurants, politicians of all stripes, trade unionists, farmers and a few cows, horses, pigs, chickens, llamas and rabbits. Oh, yeah. That butter sculpture, too. You know, Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Or, Queen of the Tao of Dairy.
State and county fairs, occurring in late summer, are the direct remnants of the Celtic festival of Lughnasa, a first fruits market and holiday week which brought farmers, crafts people, villagers and nobility together. These festivals had a religious beginning, honoring of some god or goddess whose attributes seemed especially apt, in the case of Lughnasa, the Celtic god, Lugh, a god of many skills, whose foster-mother Tailtiu died after clearing Ireland for agriculture.
At Lughnasa handfast marriages were made, hands stuck through a hole in a stone wall and held fast blessed a couples trial for a year and a day. Games and feats of skill played a prominent part during the Lughnasa festivals, too. Winter lodging for those without homes was also contracted for during these festivals.
(Lugh had a spear which sought battle, a sling with which he was expert and a raven by his side. His name means, in Gaelic, long arm.)
The gathering of such diverse groups as 4-H’ers, beekeepers, dairy folk, farm implement dealers, artists, union workers, political aspirants and hawkers of all kinds makes our contemporary Lughnasa as vibrant and colorful as the originals.
I don’t know how many year and a day marriages get sealed at the State Fair, but I imagine many relationships begin or deepen during its run.
However you style it, the State Fair celebrates the many skills and talents in our state and brings folks together. Lugh, the god of many talents, must feel at home here, too.