Lughnasa is a Celtic Festival that takes place at the beginning of August each year. Pronounced Loo-ness-ah, the festival heralded the start of the harvest.
The idea was to appease the Celtic god Lugh and thereby ensure a good harvest. It corresponds with the Saxon holiday of Lammas which celebrates harvesting of the wheat crops.
Traditionally Lughnasadh was a time for singing, dancing, feasting and storytelling. In recent times, Lughnasa re-entered public consciousness thanks to the Brian Friel play, Dancing at Lughnasa, and the 1998 movie of the same name which starred Meryl Streep and Michael Gambon.
Ireland has celebrated a Bank Holiday on the first Monday of August each year since the Bank Holidays Act of 1871. The date corresponds with Lughnasadh, one of four major Celtic festivals that take place at significant moments in the solar calendar each year, the others being Imbolc (February), Bealtaine (May) and Samhain (Halloween). Although not celebrated widely in Ireland these days, the festival lives on in the Irish name of the month of August which is Lúnasa.