When putting together our wines for our August Bank Holiday collection, we couldn't help but fear the rain that poured, and wondered what impact it would have on BBQ plans... Not one to be thrown by a bit of rain, Fionnuala took one look at the case of wines and decided to heck with just one weekend of celebrations and the possibility of the weather calling a halt to them - let's go whole hog and celebrate for a fortnight! She's not wrong.
Steininger Gruner Veltliner & Andreas Bender's Pinot Noir, pictured below, can all be found in our Let's Get Sizzled case!
The canny Celts gave us the festival of Lughnasa, usually celebrated any time from the 1st to the 14th of August. While it was originally just one day, when the Christian calendar replaced the Pagan one, no-one could decide on which day, exactly, Lughnasa fell, so we've been left with the two weeks to fill as we please.
The celebration of the Celtic God, Lugh, is all about the harvest. His poor foster mother, Tailtiú, is said to have exhausted herself clearing the midland plains of Ireland to make way for agriculture, and he honoured her memory by gathering all the neighbours together to bake bread, made from the first wheat of the season, share the fruit harvest, to sing, dance and ‘make glad’.
The festivals held in Lugh’s honour, or to thank Tailtiú for her efforts, are to ensure a successful gathering of the crops for the coming season. Party-goers would festoon themselves with fruit and berries, and decorate holy wells with flowers. The bilberry, or fraughan, as they're known in many areas, a relative of the blueberry, was the traditional fruit, picked on a heathery hillside, and later baked in a cake for the object of your desire. This would hopefully lead to lots of ‘making glad’, bringing us to another custom of Lughnasa, the trial marriage. How very open- minded these Celts were. Young couples who wished to get married would join hands and pledge to stay together for a year and a day. After that period was up, they could walk away from each other, no questions asked.
Did they drink wine? Who knows, maybe they fermented those fraughans, though it is more likely they soaked them in poitín to make a fiery, fruity hooch.
Thankfully we can do much better these days to find a fine liquid companion to our August feasting. Ahead of the coming harvest, many winemakers are bottling the young whites and reds of the 2022 vintage, cleaning out and preparing tanks, vats and barrels for the grapes of ’23.
The August Bank Holiday always feels a bit precious, like we have to make the very most of it. No time for faffing about in the kitchen for hours. These are the days to make the most of our local markets, delis and bakeries. If Lugh, the God of sun and light, deigns to favour us, we’ll definitely have that barbecue on the go. Nothing fancy, this is not the weekend for the barbecue games.
I’ll be offering up some wonderful sourdough baked by a professional to thank Lugh for giving light and heat to the soil. I’ll further celebrate the labours of Tailtiú by enjoying the fruits of the vineyard. Vibrant refreshing young whites, and juicy, uncomplicated reds will set the tone for the wild and abandoned dancing which traditionally follows the feasting, all under the guise of paying homage to our very own sun God and his hard-working, enterprising mammy.