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Michaelmas, or, St Michael's Day :: Sept 29

Food and Stories

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Who is Michael?

From the book Festivals, Family and Food:
As Michael nam Buadh, Michael the Victorious, he is known as conqueror of the powers of darkness; the Angel who hurled Lucifer down from heaven for his treachery... This festival was important in Celtic Christianity, particularly for the dedication of churches. From St. Micheal's Mount in Cornwall to Mont S. Michel in France, the importance of the saint is still signified.
St Michael is one of the principal angelic warriors, protector against the dark of the night and the Archangel who fought against Satan and his evil angels. As Michaelmas is the time that the darker nights and colder days begin - the edge into winter - the celebration of Michaelmas is associated with encouraging protection during these dark months. It was believed that negative forces were stronger in darkness and so families would require stronger defences during the later months of the year.


From Festivals, Family and Food:
[Michaelmas] is celebrated in similar fashion to the Harvest festival, and at one time this included the roasting of the annual Michaelmas Goose.

A St. Michael's Goose was traditional in England. However, humbler fare can also be enjoyed. St Michael's Bannock ( a very large dense cake) is traditionally made of several cereal flours. Modern folks can expedite the bannock-making by making waffles instead. Blackberry syrup is an appropriate topping, since they are not to be picked after Michaelmas Day, when the Devil landed in them.


Folklore in England holds that the devil landed in bramble bushes, and therefore one must not pick blackberries after Michaelmas.

Common purple asters are also known as the Michaelmas Daisy, since they are late-blooming flowers usually in full force at Michaelmas, when most other flowers have faded.

From Festivals, Family and Food:

[Michael] is usually portrayed as riding a white steed and carrying a three-pronged spear in one hand and a three-cornered shield in the other. Because of the strong good vs. evil theme in this heritage, the story of a similar figure, St. George and the dragon, is appropriate at Michaelmas.

In Edmund Spencer's The Faire Queen, Book One, The Knight of the Red Cross is St George.
©2012 by Maura Enright
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