LughnasaIn the time of the ancient Celts, Thanksgiving was called Lughnasa, and it was celebrated on August 1 (Lunasa is the Irish Gaelic name for August). Lughnasa marked the beginning of the harvest season and the ripening of the first crops. Traditionally, it was a time for community gatherings, market festivals, and reunions with family and friends. In areas throughout Europe, and especially in Ireland, people still celebrate Lughnasa with bonfires, dancing, and feasts. In the United States, where many Irish immigrants settled during the 1800s, August became the time chosen for family reunions and parties. In a nod to modern U.S. work schedules, later generations have moved Lughnasa get-togethers to the Fourth of July.

How do I know so much about an obscure Celtic holiday? To begin with, I researched it via our Articles and Research Guides.

On our main Web page, click on “Find” and then “Research Guides.” You can search by subject matter, type of source (newspaper, dissertation, book, etc.), or type in some keywords in the “Search” bar. For Lughnasa, I searched under “Religious Studies” and also typed in keywords such as “Celtic,” “festivals,” and “harvest.” You can do the same for just about any subject. My search for “harvest festivals” returned 56 hits. Searching “Lughnasa harvest” returned three. If you find an article that interests you and the library doesn’t own it, you can request it through Interlibrary Loan.

Online articles aren’t the only sources we have available. Some older publications are in microfilm/microform and can be found in our Current Periodicals and Microforms Center. We also have books on most subjects. I’ve listed a few of the sources I found on Lughnasa at the end of this post.

You may be familiar with the word “Lughnasa” from the excellent play titled Dancing at Lughnasa by Ireland’s leading playwright, Brian Friel. If you haven’t seen the movie adaptation, we have it in the Media Center. Check it out.

Dancing at Lughnasa (video recording)
The Druid Chronicles (microform)
Celtic Mysteries: The Ancient Religion (book)
The Religion of the Ancient Celts (book)