In All Times and Places, Give Thanks

We bless you, God of Seed and Harvest, and we bless each other
That the beauty of this world, nd the love that created it
Might be expressed though our lives nd be a blessing to others
Now and always. AMEN (From Praying Through the Celtic Year)


Every culture and every faith has harvest celebrations.

While we here in the US are most acquainted with such festivals in autumn, those of us with Celtic backgrounds may know about a cycle of eight such events — one of which occurs about every six weeks. These “holy days” are ancient in origin and are often solar or lunar observances, but that’s not all…they are so universal that by the middle ages, they had even been incorporated into the calendars of the church. August 1st became known as Lammas and was a bread-festival.

This weekend marks one of those events. Variously known as Lammas, Lughnasadh, Bread Harvest, First Harvest, or even Freyfaxi, August 1st marks the grain, corn, or summer harvest. But depending on where you live, this day in high summer (or mid-winter for those who live down-under) may also be the time when you find yourself surrounded by tomatoes, squash, onions, zucchini and fresh herbs as we are here on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. In a few days I will be making and freezing a big batch of pesto with the Greek Basil from my own herb garden, but today I am making tomato sauce.

We moved here a bit too late this year to get our own tomatoes going, but fortunately, I have found a source for buying very meaty Roma tomatoes in bulk (White City Produce and Greenhouse and the first batch is already simmering on the stove. Redolent of herbs and spices, it smells heavenly…which brings me to my real point for writing this. How often do we give thanks for the simple pleasures of our lives?

The scent of a ripe tomato (and its pungent vine) is an occasion for gratitude. The lingering aroma of garlic and onions on your fingers after chopping is a reminder of how much you have for which to be thankful. Even the grit on your countertops and under your fingernails when you sort produce or rinse fresh greens is an opportunity to give thanks for all that this good earth produces.

So, whatever your tradition may be, now is a good time to look around at the bounty of your life and mark this time of year with a special act of gratitude for all your blessings. Make a gift to a food bank, prepare a special meal using the fruits of this summer harvest, or just stand outside and breathe a prayer of thanksgiving.

tomato sauce for Lunassa

And here is the recipe. No, it’s not for bread, but some fresh rosemary focaccia would be perfect with it.

Glyn’s Lammastide Tomato Sauce

5 lbs roma tomatoes, stems removed and cut into quarters
2 large onions, finely chopped
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c olive oil
1-2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 c chopped fresh basil (or 1 tbsp dried)
1/4 c chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
3 bay leaves

In batches in a food processor, pulse the tomatoes until chopped or pureed. Meanwhile, saute the garlic and onion in the olive oil until translucent. Combine in a large pot with the tomatoes and remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook at a slow boil until the sauce is reduced to the consistency you prefer. Adjust the seasoning. Preserve as you wish. I freeze the sauce in quart size plastic bags. Depending upon how thick you like your sauce, this recipe will make up to four quarts. Dayenu! Glyn

This entry was posted by Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk.

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