Michaelmas


During the middle ages, Michaelmas (Michael's Mass) was celebrated as a Holy Day of obligation, ending only in the 18th century. In medieval England, it marked the ending and beginning of the husbandman's year as George C Homans observes:


"at that time harvest was over, and the bailiff of the manor would be making out the accounts for the year."

Due to it falling on September 29th, the holy day became associated with the beginning of Autumn and shortening of days. On the Isle of Skye, processions were held including sports, games and horse races. Folklore in Britain holds that the traditional meal for the day included a Goose and a special cake called Sruthan Micheil, Saint Michael's bannock, or Michaelmas Bannock on the eve of the feast of Saint Michael. Because early traditions held that Lucifier fell into a pickly blackberry bush when he was expelled from heaven, Michaelmas was often considered the last day of the year to pick blackberries. A special blackberry pie would be made from the last picking called a Michaelmas pie.


In the United Kingdom, Ireland and parts of the Commonwealth, Michaelmas is used as the name for the first term of the academic year. Included in this name usage are the Universities of Cambridge, Durham, Lancaster , Oxford, Swansea and Dublin. Elizabeth I was dining on goose when she received news of the destruction of the Spanish Armada and resolved to eat goose on every Michaelmas Day going forward. The tradition caught root widely during this time. A second suggestion for the wide use of eating geese during Michaelmas comes from the day being a "Quarter Day" (Lady Day in March, Midsummer day in June, Michaelmas, and Christmas) where rents were due. Tenants who were hoping for a delay in payment would often present a goose to their landlord.


Some sayings from the England during Michaelmas :


The Michaelmas Daisies, among dede weeds,

Bloom for St Michael's valorous deeds.

And seems the last of flowers that stood,

Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.


Eat a goose on Michaelmas Day,

Want not for money all the year.


If St Michael brings many acorns, Christmas will cover the fields with snow.


In the Roman calendar, September 29th is now the feast day for all three Archangels mentioned in the bible : Saint Michael (29 September originally), Saint Gabriel (originally 18 March), and Saint Raphael (24th October originally). In the Waldorf schools, it is celebrated as the "festival of strong will" during the equinox. In the City of London, Michaelmas is the day when the new Lord Mayor of London is elected. In the courts of Ireland, England and Wales, the term is used as the name of the first of four terms that the legal year is divided into. A red mass is traditionally held the Sunday closest to Michaelmas to bless lawyers and judges. Although the term isn't directly used, the Supreme Court of the United States begins its annual term by starting on the first Monday of October, a few days after Michaelmas.


Because Saint Michael the Archangel is considered the patron Saint of law enforcement, many Dioceses now also hold a "Blue Mass" to celebrate those in the public safety field. It was first dated to September 29th, 1934, when Reverend Thomas Dade performed the pass with the Catholic Police and Fireman's society at Saint Patrick's Catholic church in Washington DC. It is timed to occur during Michaelmas.







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