In the Northern Hemisphere, the cross-quarter is celebrated as Lughnasadh (Lughnasa, Lúnasa, Lùnastal, Luanistyn, Lammas). Astronomically, the event falls on the 6th, though some observe the traditional date of August 1st.
Mike Nichols recognizes Lughnasadh as a day of games, craft festivals, early harvest, and first fruits. The custom of setting apart the first fruits of a harvest, by leaving part of the field standing or dedicating part to a deity, was widespread in the ancient world. In the modern context, it is possible to honor this custom in various naturalistic ways, for example by giving a portion of your yearly earnings to a favorite charity.
Jon Cleland Host describes how his family observes Lughnasadh:
We celebrate Lammas by some kind of early harvesting, such as visiting a pick-your-own blueberry farm, wild raspberry picking, or such. To see the abundance of the earth, we’ll sometime spend time wandering (or even trying to run) in a mature cornfield. It’s one thing to say “Oh, yeah, the earth is producing a lot of growth”, but quite another indeed to be surrounded by it, blinding your sight and slowing your movement – that really shows the power of this Sabbat. We usually bake bread, perhaps in a woven Celtic knot, enjoying some of it during our ritual. The ritual is held during the afternoon’s heat, not at night. (Naturalistic Paganism yahoo group)
Glenys Livingstone of Pagaian, in keeping with decline of the length of day, takes this time to contemplate dissolution and the deep self:
This is the season of the waxing dark. The seed of darkness that was born at the Summer Solstice now grows … the dark part of the days grows visibly longer. Earth’s tilt is taking us back away from the Sun. This is the time when we celebrate dissolution, expansion into Deep Self, the time when each unique self lets go, to the Darkness. It is the time for celebrating ending, when the grain, the fruit, is harvested. We meet to remember the Dark Sentience, the All-Nourishing Abyss, She from whom we arise, in whom we are immersed and to whom we return. This is the time of the Crone, the Wise Dark One, who accepts and receives our harvest, who grinds the grain, who dismantles what has gone before.
She also invites ritual participants to contemplate their hopes for the harvest.
For a particularly unique perspective of Lughnasadh this year, you might keep your eye on blogger Drew Jacob: since the day is special to his patron Lugh, and Drew has just begun his Great Adventure traveling from Minnesota to Brazil by his own body’s power, an interesting post no doubt awaits.
Those in the Southern Hemisphere celebrate Imbolc at this time.