+JMJ

MICHAELMAS - 29 SEPTEMBER


Michaelmas (pronounced "Mikkelmass") was originally the anniversary of the dedication of the Church of Saint Michael and All Angels on the Salarian Way in Rome in the 6th century.  On the revised calendar, it is the Feast of the Holy Archangels: Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

Michaelmas is one of the four "quarter days", four Catholic holidays at the beginning of each season of the year, which were communally celebrated during the Age of Faith as great religious feasts.  Michaelmas was no exception: it was a holy day of obligation and the celebration that day was marked by hospitality, costumes, music and dancing. Many popular traditions grew up around the day, which coincided with the end of harvest.

In England and Ireland, Michaelmas was "the goose harvest", when the geese which had hatched in the Spring were ready to be sold in the market.  It was customary to eat a goose on this day; according to popular belief, this supposedly insured financial security for the next year.  The leftover goose carcass was then used to make "Michaelmas broth".  I found a recipe for this online:  Michaelmas Broth

Geese were fed the last remnants of the grain harvest to fatten them for Michaelmas.  The down plucked from them was used to stuff pillows and matresses, so this practice became associated with Michaelmas as well.

The Irish baked a Michaelmas Pie, hiding a ring in it; it was said that the one who found the ring would soon get married.  In some areas, a cake called St. Michael's bannock was also baked on this day. Unfortunately, I could not find a recipe online for either of these treats!  In Italy, small potato dumplings called Gnocchi are eaten on September 29.  Here's a simple recipe:  Gnocchi

Michaelmas also fell around the time for apple picking in the orchards, so cider was traditionally brewed at this time of year.  It was also the beginning of hunting season.

The Aster, also known as the Michaelmas Daisy, is the "flower of the day" (they usually bloom around this time of year).  Here is a page about this flower:  Michaelmas Daisy

The following is an excerpt from the book _My Nameday, Come for Dessert_, containing suggested family prayers for Michaelmas:

**************

Today the family prays the following:

Father:  The Lord, King of archangels.

All:  Come, let us adore, alleluia.

Father:  I looked up and saw a man standing there clad all in linen and his girdle was of fine gold.  Clear as a topaz his body was, like the play of lightning shone his face; and like burning crossets his eyes; arms and legs of him had the sheen of bronze, and when he spoke, it was like the murmur of a throng.

All:  He bestows favors on those nations who honor him, and his prayer leads them to the kingdom of heaven, alleluia.

Father:  The angel Michael, chief in paradise, to whom the angelic citizens pay honor.

All:  Most glorious prince, archangel Michael, be mindful of us here and everywhere; pray ever for us to the Son of God, alleluia, alleluia.

Father:  From the writings of Pope St. Gregory the Great:

Michael means "Who is like God!"  When any work of remarkable power is to be done, we are told it is Michael who is sent, that from both his action and his name we may understand that none can accomplish what God in His might accomplishes.

All:  Salvation belongs to our God, alleluia.

Father:  Let us pray.  O God, who ordained the services of angels and men in wonderful order, be pleased to grant that our life on earth may be guarded by those who stand always ready to serve You in heaven. Through Christ our Lord.

All:  Amen.  Christ conquers, Christ reigns!

From the book  My Nameday, Come for Dessert  (Warning:  This links to a text of the entire book online, and it is LONG!)

Helen McLoughlin also recommends baking an Angel Food Cake in honor of St. Michael, and singing the song "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" with ones children.

St. Michael the Archangel An excellent page with info about St. Michael, including links to prayers and pictures

SANCTE Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio, contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.  Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:  tuque, Princeps militiae coelestis, Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo, divina virtute, in infernum detrude.  Amen  (Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel)


| Back: Sanctify the Year | Joyful Catholicism | Site Index | Home Page |