Early August sees the start of Lughnasa, the late summer festival celebrating the ripening of berries and nuts in the forest and the first harvest in the fields.
Lughnasa is named after the Irish hero, Lugh, who many think of as a sun god. In later times, Lughnasa was named Lammas (‘loaf-mass’) in reference to the beginning of harvest.
In farmlands all over Europe, it was believed that the spirit of the corn lived amongst the crop, and so was made homeless by the harvest. It was the custom to fashion the last sheaf of wheat into a corn ‘dolly’, so that the spirit of the corn could spend the winter in this home, until the ‘dolly’ was ploughed back into the land in the new season.
In forest glades and edge-lands, wild grass, rather than cultivated grain, is in seed, and can be used to make a simple ‘dolly’. Here, in this extract from The Children’s Forest, we show you how to make your own Plaited Grass Dolly:
Spring sees the start of nesting season for birds – both domestic, with chickens going broody, and wild birds who visit our gardens and parks.
Although blackbirds are easy to spot in our gardens in Autumn, when they come in search of berries and windfall fruit, if you’re lucky you might see them now gathering nesting materials, preparing to brood and hatch some chicks as the weather warms.
Blackbird chicks usually hatch after 13-14 days and are fed on earthworms when available in our gardens, and on caterpillars when they are raised in woodlands. Only the female blackbird broods the eggs, but both parents feed the chicks.
For more information on seasonal wildlife, and stories, songs and crafts that celebrate each season see The Children’s Forest by Dawn Casey, Anna Richardson and Helen d’Ascoli. Listen to Anna Richardson’s recording of the spring songs from The Children’s Forest on the Red Squirrel Resources YouTube channel.
The egg, so fragile and yet so strong, with its promise of new life, has always been a potent symbol and a part of Easter celebrations. In this extract fromThe Children’s Forestwe show you how to paint eggs using natural dye, leaves and flowers.
For more seasonal activity ideas and stories see The Children’s Forest by Dawn Casey, Anna Richardson and Helen d’Ascoli.
Every family is a storytelling family and every child a storyteller?
Interested in telling nature stories? ThenThe Natural Storytellerhas stories for telling orally. Using the story maps, you can easily tell the stories without reading and become a family storyteller. You can build up a repertoire of stories to tell your family, and impress your teachers on returning to school. You can find world stories in 147 Traditional Stories, for children aged 7-12 to retell, and storytelling tips.
Seasonal Nature and Craft
Books such as The Children’s Forest offer stories and songs, wild food, recipes, crafts and celebrations for all the year round. Families can enjoy these, with seasonal things to look out for on your daily walks.
Our own Katy Bevan co-hosts a visible mending workshop, Meet Make Mend that you can now join online. The group will next meet on 13th January from 7 p.m. – sign up here.
There are also countless online tutorials springing up where you can join like-minded folk and make things together. For example, Hikaru Noguchi, author of Darning: Repair, Make, Mend is currently offering visible mending tutorials on IGTV and Steffi Stern, author of several crafting books published by Hawthorn Press, has a selection of online workshops available to watch via Youtube.
You can keep up-to-date on Hawthorn Press books, events and activity suggestions by following us on social media and by signing up to our monthly newsletter.
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