Saturday, September 21, 2013

Celebrating the Feast of Michaelmas

One of the Feasts I have most been looking forward to celebrating this Liturgical Year in our Domestic Church is Michaelmas. Michaelmas, or the Feast of St. Michael and the Archangels, is observed on September 29th - this year it will be next Sunday! LegenDaddy has a special devotion to St. Michael, and the Prayer of St. Michael has been a part of our bedtime prayers with the boyOs for awhile now.

Pronounced "MICK-el-mus," this feast was a Holy Day of Obligation up until the 18th century. Since it's establishment in the 5th century, Michaelmas has been a great day of importance and has many traditions from European countries. It not only celebrated the archangel, but it also marked the end of harvest and the beginning of Autumn. It is one of four holy days that mark the seasons (the others are Christmas, the Feast of the Annunciation, and St. John's feast day).

There are 7 archangels of the Church, but Michaelmas specifically celebrates Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. The latter two were only celebrated to this day in the 20th century - in previous years they were celebrated on other days.

Andrei Rublev's standalone depiction c. 1408

St. Michael's name means "Who Is Like God," which also is his war cry. He is the defender of the Church and the Christian faithful. Gabriel, the "Hero of God" or the "Strength of God," is the archangel that most Christians have heard of since he was the bringer of the news of Christ's coming to the Virgin Mary. St. Raphael is only mentioned in the Book of Tobit, and his name means "God has Healed."

We will be celebrating this as a major feast, complete with a celebratory dinner meal, and an activity or two. You can take this Feast Day as simple or complicated as you want, but I do recommend learning a little about it if you never have before. Remember that you don't have to go all out - go at your own pace with what works for your family and home life. Take some time to figure out how you can best celebrate this Feast Day, and enjoy it!

Michael (left) with archangels Raphael andGabriel, by Botticini, 1470

There are many traditional foods associated with Michaelmas, so I will highlight a few. We will probably not be making all of these, but this will give you some options!

St. Michael's Bannock is a Scottish tradition. It is a griddle cake which all in the household, servants and master alike, ate a piece of. We'll be using the recipe I found in A Continual Feast (by Evelyn Birge Vitz), but a similar recipe is found at Catholic Culture.

Goose is the traditional main course, but turkey, duck, or chicken will do just as well. I'm not sure I'll be able to find a goose, but we might splurge and get a duck.

We're going to try it with this recipe, also from Catholic Culture: Michaelmas Goose with Potato Apple Stuffing. Apples are perfect, too, since they are an autumnal food.

Carrots have been long associated with St. Michael - in Scotland bouquets of carrots tied with red ribbons were given to guests. Since they also encourage good eyesight with their healthy vitamins, you can also think of St. Raphael, the Healer.

For dessert Angel Food Cake could be fun, yet a more traditional route would be to go with blackberries.

An old folk tale tells of how when Satan was cast from heaven, he landed amongst the brambles. Every year at Michaelmas, he spits upon the blackberry bushes making them inedible thus meaning that to enjoy blackberries, one must do so before he does so.

We'll be enjoying Michaelmas Dumplings (recipe from Lavender + Lovage), but any blackberry dessert would do. You could even serve straight berries with fresh whipped cream on top!


Two other great posts with recipes, links, and more are here:

Gabriel making the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary. Painting by El Greco, 1575 (Museo del Prado,Madrid)

Crafts + Activities

Color in one or more of these beautiful coloring pages by Waltzing Matilda.

A variation on this fun Carrot craft from A Journey Through My Loves: make the carrot accordingly but instead of using the poem there, add the St. Michael prayer, or just write "St. Michael, protect our home."

Listen to Cantata for Michaelmas Day by Johann Sebastian Bach

Make your own sword (Activity Village) and shield (Crack of Dawn Crafts) and dress up like St. Michael.

Colors to keep in mind:
St. Michael - gold or orange
St. Gabriel - silver or blue
St. Raphael - yellow or gray

Other Traditions

Aster daisies are also called Michaelmas daisies. There is a poem about them that goes as such:

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.”
St. Simon + St. Jude's feast day is 28 October.

A few other rhymes I found that also reference Michaelmas:
"A dark Michaelmas, a light Christmas."  
He who eats goose on Michaelmas Day
   shan't money lack or debts to pay. 
"If St. Michael brings many acorns, Christmas will cover the fields in snow."
As a quarter day, rents and bills were all due, and debts were settled on Michaelmas.

Saint Raphael the Archangel by Bartolom√© Esteban Murillo
To Read

Of course the Biblical account of St. Michael casting Satan into Hell is a must! You can read about it in the book of Revelation, chapter 12, verses 7-12.

Other than our many great collections of Saints books, I couldn't find any other specifically archangel books. However, since St. Michael is associated with dragons, look for a post early in the week with our favorite, favorite, favorite dragon books.

And here is the Prayer we pray every night at our house to St. Michael:

Saint Michael the Archangel,defend us in battle;be our protection against the wickedness and the snares of the devil.May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,by the divine power of God,cast into hell Satan and all the evil spiritswho roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls and the ruin of Christ's Church.Amen.

Also here is a Prayer to St. Gabriel and a Prayer to St. Raphael that you can pray.

Happy Michaelmas to each and every one of you! If you celebrate it in your home, I'd love to hear about your family's traditions and see pictures (if you have any), so please share in the comments!


Title picture: Saint Michael; stained glass in the Pfarrkirche St. Martin in Linz am Rhein (Germany) 20th c.

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This post Celebrating the Feast of Michaelmas first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 21 September 2013


  1. It's my new favorite - I've been looking forward to our second Michaelmas for months. I can't wait to show you what I've been working on this month!

    1. Oooh, I cannot wait to see Molly! Post pictures. =)


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