WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29: It’s a feast for the greatest archangel of all for Western Christians today: Michael the archangel is honored on Michaelmas. Also termed “The Feast of Michael and All Angels,” today is about celebrating one of the principal angelic warriors, paying tribute to a protector against night, and remembering the archangel who defeated Lucifer in the biblical battle for heaven.
The list of lives influenced by Michael goes on and on, but among the most well known was St. Joan of Arc to whom he reportedly appeared. Some interpret the Bible as foretelling that Michael will defeat the antichrist. If Michael the Archangel is known as a warrior, surely this end-of-times, good-versus-evil battle will be the one to trump them all!
In old Ireland and Europe, Michaelmas fell during the harvest season, so his feast was often marked with a cooked goose, plenty of apples and other fresh produce on the dinner table. (Read more customs at FishEasters, a Catholic site.) The association with autumn must have stuck, too, because Michael’s name is still used to describe the first term of the academic year in traditional universities in the UK and Ireland. (Wikipedia has more.) “Michaelmas” is also the tem used in courts, to differentiate the first of four terms in which the modern-day legal year is divided in Wales and England.
Michaelmas traditions are popping up in many places: Poultry producers in the UK are reporting record orders for geese for Michaelmas, a story in The Guardian recently revealed. Whether it’s a chic diner watching his weight with a low-fat goose in a London hotel, or a pub-goer participating in a week-long goose-fest, more Europeans are once again striking up this Michaelmas tradition. (Looking for a fun game to play with a Michaelmas roast? After you get a neat recipe from CatholicCulture? Here it goes: According to legend, a goose’s breastbone can predict winter weather, just as groundhogs can see shadows and predict spring weather. If your goose has a translucent breastbone, it indicates a mild winter, while a thick breastbone means it will be a hard winter.)
Trivia Question: What 3 books in the Christian Bible refer to this archangel? Bonus: Which book contains a reference thought to describe Michael defeating Satan? (Answers below.)
Curious about Michaelmas “Cake”?
Michaelmas food traditions generally include rich desserts made with autumn fruits—often apple cake. Traditionally, though, Michaelmas dessert probably was a fruit pie or tart. The Irish Culture and Customs website offers an apple-and-blackberry pie recipe. (Scroll down and you’ll see it just below “Strawberry Scones.” Yum!) Got your own recipe to share? Email us at [email protected]
Trivia Answers: Daniel, Jude and Revelation. Revelation 12:7-8 has inspired a long stream of literary references: “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.”