Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Lughnasahd/Green Corn Celebration

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Have you hurled a dragon today? Why not? It's Lughnasahd! Are you tucking into some fresh sweet corn, drenched in butter, held by those dumb little plastic, corn-shaped holders? Better thank the bored gods for that grain. It's Festival of the Green Corn!

Two different parts of the world, one big Holy Day. The Celts celebrate Lughnasahd, the first gathering-in of crops, with a festival honoring Mother Earth Danu and Goibhniu (never spell that one right, took me months to get Chonganda), Great God of Brewing. Finally we're sure there'll be enough grain to make bread and that other important staple, whiskey, through the cold months.

The Native Americans celebrate Green Corn. The corn in question is, of course, maize. That was their staple crop. In the days before Columbus and his little friend Smallpox, the Green Corn Festival was the biggest holiday on the Native American calendar. Same reasons as above, except that the Native Americans didn't have a bored god of whiskey brewing because they didn't invent White Lightning.

(Fast fact for the day: When we say "corn," we mean "maize," i.e. sweet corn. But in Europe prior to 1492, "corn" referred to barley. There was no maize in Europe prior to 1492.)

So, let's be thankful to our gods for their bounty! And have some fun doing it! If you've never tossed a dragon, today is a good day to start. (Those mitts you use to extract the Pillsbury Slice n Bakes from the oven are very helpful.)

Exhibit A
LlynHydd Grove Dragon

Nowadays as most of us tuck into our Thanksgiving dinners on blustery November afternoons, there's a small little something we've forgotten that was evident to the Celts and the Native Americans.

Sometimes harvest doesn't happen.

It rains too much. It doesn't rain enough. A late snow nips the peach buds. Locusts roar through. Mold, blight, rust, weevils, worn out soil ... climate change.

One little blip, harvest doesn't happen.

Oh, Anne. You're so morbid.

Think so? Try this: If harvests could be counted on with absolute certainty, why would Homo sapiens have covered the globe? Gosh, why pick up and move if the crops are good in your valley?

So, if I may be so bold as to predict why Green Corn and Lughnasahd evolved into such revelry-filled events, it's because you can't always count on a harvest, and when you get a good one, you are as relieved as all bloody git-out.

I come from a long line of hillbilly farmers, and they were a fretful bunch indeed until they got the hay made and the apples picked.

The point of this rambling? We're a nation that takes harvests for granted in an era when we should be fretting. Those amber waves of grain may be baked before they leave the field. And the corn'll be as high as a jackrabbit's eye.

If we keep on hacking down forests and pumping CO2 into the air, a Lughnasahd may arrive with no barley.

Are we smart enough to keep that from happening?

Maybe we should ask Danu for help. That is, after we've thanked her for what she's already done.



Nixie B said...

Anne, that's the first time I've seen anyone bring up the concept of a harvest-less Lughnasadh if we don't do something about global warming. But it makes perfect sense!

And there are no coincidences - just earlier when I went to my little neighborhood market to get some lunch I found an EAT LOCAL promotion from The Food Project.

You inspired me to post something about this on my site.

Thanks, Anne, for bringing a fresh perspective both to celebrating Lughnasadh and to our need to do something about global warming.

Interrobang said...

I've just been reading about crop failures in Europe. They're predicting possible famine in Eastern Europe this year, and higher-than-average meat and staple prices in Western Europe and the UK. I have a friend in the UK whose retiree parents don't have very much money, and they live in an economically-depressed area, so he doesn't have a job either, and I know in the winter he's always hungry anyhow. I'm worried about him come winter this year.

buddy don said...

seems to me lack we are fixin to larn bout how lots of thangs really wurk -- or dont -- n why we ever had gods that hepped us git thru hard times (reckon theyll still fool with us?).

is thay a god fer them that denies reality, folks lack james inohofe (“man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”) n conrad burns (“You remember the ice age? It’s been warming ever since, and there ain’t nothing we can do to stop it.”)