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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Celebrating Michaelmas

Ordinary time has been good in my home, not perfect, but good. I haven't celebrated some of the saints' days the way I'd planned, but we've enjoyed a type of "growing time" as my son calls the Pentecost season. (This came from a song or chant they did in his Catechesis of the Good Shepherd class years ago.)

However, the feast day of St. Michael the Archangel and All Angels, also known as Michaelmas, is just around the corner, literally - September 29th, and that seems like a good time to start gearing back up for the celebrations of the Church Year. I've been neglecting that here on the old blog!

So, Michaelmas. What is it? When is it? How does one celebrate it? Hmmmm.... time for some research.

This Catholic website has some great background info. From that website, a listing of those issues of which he is a "Patron Saint" (ex: artists, bakers, bankers, boatmen, cemeteries, endangered children, Emergency Medical Technicians, fencing, and more....). And I learned from the The Oxford Dictionary of Saints that St. Michael is often associated with high places and was quite popular in the British Isles since early church times.

Here are the appointed readings for the day (for the American Church).

If you keep a family altar, perhaps you might like posting an icon of St. Michael for you kids to see and be reminded, visually, about who the day's special celebration is commemorating. (You should be able to right click on the image to the right and save it to your computer.)

I always find it interesting to learn how feast days were celebrated back in the Middle Ages. For some reason, those Medievalites knew how to observe a holy day! Seriously, many of our church year traditions come to us from the Middle Ages and our modern celebrations can be "informed" by learning about the origins. A fattened goose?

Some other ideas for food traditions associated with Michaelmas are: Blackberries - from Catholic Culture: Folklore in the British Isles suggests that Michaelmas day is the last day that blackberries can be picked. It is said that when St. Michael expelled Lucifer, the devil, from heaven, he fell from the skies and landed in a prickly blackberry bush. Satan cursed the fruit, scorched them with his fiery breath, and stamped and spat on them, so that they would be unfit for eating. A Traditional Irish proverb says: On Michaelmas Day the devil puts his foot on the blackberries. In France, waffles are eaten. In Italy, gnocchi. And in England a roast goose. Maybe a dinner of roast chicken, a side of gnocchi and dessert of blackberry pie?

And because, you know, I love Art History, this might be a day to read about the beautiful Mont Saint Michel in Normandy, France.

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Anonymous said...

Thanks, your posting gave some good ideas for our celebrating Michaelmas in Indonesia.

Some other ideas for Michaelmas..(from the booklet "Treasures in Teapots" by Valerie Reddix) She decorates her home with fall leaves and glowing candles everywhere -- including one tall white candle (typifying Michael) and one tall red (typifying Lucifer). Her children enact the story of "St. George and the Dragon" as it is a type of the Revelation passage. The two youngest then blow out the red candle at the end, with the white candle continuing to burn brightly.

Kerry said...

I love the ide of the two candles and blowing out Lucifer's!! I may have to use that!