Traditionally a loaf is baked and blessed in church then cut into quarters so that it can be placed at the four corners of the barn to protect the garnered grains while they are stored there. Corn maidens are also woven from the newly cut wheat stalks to keep in the house for fertility and protection during the coming year as were ashes from the fires.
Marking, as it does, the start of the waning year and the beginning of autumn it has always been a time of handfasting when couples would jump the dying fires to declare their love and solemnise their union. In the days before electric blankets and central heating you needed some way (or someone) to keep your feet warm on cold winter nights.
Why is she telling us all this old toffee it's got nothing to do with cross stitch? Because, Alice dear, I've written another poem - groan - which I would like to share with you. So while I plough my fields you can all scatter if this isn't to your liking .....
Light the fires, the Lammas fires
Like folk have done since times forgot.
The gule of August is upon us
Bring in the wheat, don't let it rot.
Bake the loaf, the Lammas loaf
And have it churched so it can start
To work it's magic, ancient magic,
In our barns and in our hearts.
Jump the fires, the Lammas fires
Handfasting time has come again.
Take your sweetheart, do not tarry.
From this day forth you'll be as twain.
Take the ashes, the Lammas ashes
To your home and to your hearth.
Receive through them the age old blessings.
Harvest's done now autumn starts.
Have you noticed the nights are starting to drawing in now?