Lam·​mas | \ ˈla-məs How to pronounce Lammas (audio) \

Definition of Lammas

1 : August 1 originally celebrated in England as a harvest festival

called also Lammas Day

2 : the time of the year around Lammas Day

Did You Know?

The word Lammas evolved from Old English "hlāfmæsse" (hlāf meaning "loaf" and mæssse meaning "mass"). It originated from the fact that on August first of each year, the early English church celebrated the harvesting of the first ripe grain by consecrating loaves made from it - hence, "loaf mass." Shakespeareans will be sure to add that the eve of Lammas is Juliet's birthday, as her nurse tells us in Romeo and Juliet, "Come Lammas Eve at night shall she be fourteen." In addition, the phrase "latter Lammas" was used humorously to refer to a day that will never come, as in "he will pay at latter Lammas."

First Known Use of Lammas

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for Lammas

Middle English Lammasse, from Old English hlāfmæsse, from hlāf loaf, bread + mæsse mass; from the fact that formerly loaves from the first ripe grain were consecrated on this day

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The first known use of Lammas was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Lammas.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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