Lughnasadh, Lammas, or even Freyfaxi, and Perunov den, in addition to Hopi Snake and Flute dances, and Native American Eagle dances – all within the mid summer (not be confused, apparently, with Midsummer, which is somehow actually Summer Solstice and not the middle of Summer at all, like the approximation of August 1st – even though County Kerry in Ireland celebrates a 400 yr old Puck Fair now, as well) focus on a wealth of semi-related seasonal aspects: grain (the health and wealth of the coming harvest), the usefulness and relation of thunderstorms/lightning/rain, and something about horses (likely sacrifice for the other aspects to do their magick). You likely know related stories – of Persephone (sometimes relegated to Mabon or Fall Equinox), of Lugh & Balor or Crom (he lives in the erf), or as we still focus on – A Midsummer Night’s Dream (someday I may take on the disputed timeline/understanding of this play’s events as the buried remnants of Lughnasadh – or the true midsummer).
The latter works nicely for us as homeschoolers – we get to focus on a little Shakespeare, reading or discussing, enacting or arting a faerie evening (and Puck is only a shade different than a duende…the same ilk, those mischievous wood sprites) – though to find an exciting version with lovely Arthur Rackham illustrations is a feat in itself.
As with most of our seasonal celebrations we focus our feasts on what is in season and sensible for the season – grilling, Summer salads, early berries, high Summer foraging, early-mid potatoes, and though grain isn’t technically something we grow (or would be harvesting) it is always in season here and is celebrated now. Making grain or grass braids, basket making, playing horseshoes, art about rain and storms or just lying in the grass talking about clouds and even a small get together around some lovely food and Summer meads. I’m thinking of a Mixed Meats Grill with whole garlic, bundles of herbs, and halved lemons, parchment packets of local fresh Mushrooms and wine, Josh’s Panzanella – Bread Salad (a remarkably different and preferable version to the one I had in Tuscany), Triple Berry Pie (Black and Red Raspberries are in, Blueberries, and even a few Blackberries!) with Homemade Ice Cream and if I am really ambitious some Daylillies stuffed with ricotta.
1 loaf of stale crusty Bread (I save boule or baguette ends and keep in freezer, this is great for that – thaw and toast a bit if moist, not for sliced bread in a bag kind of bread – but something with heft and structure), cut into 1″ cubes
2 Med Cucumbers, chopped into big bite-size chunks
6 Large ripe Tomatoes (or 3 pints Cherry Tomatoes – halved, or 8 slicing/vine Tomatoes), chopped into bite-size chunks
1 Med Red Onion, diced
3-4 cloves of Garlic, smashed & chopped or minced
a good handful of fresh Basil Leaves, torn roughly
a good dose or 2 of Olive Oil
Red Wine Vinegar, to taste
Sea Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
In a big bowl add bread and vegetables, onion/garlic/basil, then a good pour all over of Olive Oil and half that pour of Red Wine Vinegar – using your hands (always the best tools) work it all together gently but slightly bruising the cukes and slightly squishing the tomatoes, mix in a little salt & pepper to taste. Adjust Olive Oil/Red Wine Vinegar, S&P as needed. Let sit for at least an hour to overnight to let all the good stuff meld – if refrigerating overnight (recommended) let come to room temperature before serving.
When we are feeling really decadent sometimes we add pitted/split Kalamata olives and Feta cheese (if you would rather a vegan or additional protein/crunch addition, add a handful of Toasted Sliced Almonds). Enjoy!