Christian: Michaelmas—and the return of the goose

The Kennet Morris Men dance at the Michaelmas Fayre. Photo by Anguskirk courtesy of FlickrSATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29: It began with slaying Lucifer, the fallen angel; continued with multiple sightings in human history, including one by St. Joan of Arc before her victory; and in the future, he is the one prophesied to defeat the Antichrist: today is Michaelmas, the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel. No fluffy white robe and harp is found here—Christians deem Michael the greatest of all Archangels, the warrior of Christ pictured with the demon at his feet. Though Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel are also archangels mentioned in religious tradition, only one—Michael—is directly identified in the Bible. In Hebrew, Michael’s name means, “Who is like God.”

Michaelmas Day has been celebrated for centuries, and folklore is almost as abundant as traditions! A popular UK legend has it that blackberries shouldn’t be picked after Old Michaelmas, since Satan fell into a blackberry bush after being banished by St. Michael—and cursed the blackberries. What is popular fare on Michaelmas is goose, a custom that originated with nobles and continues today. (This year, UK publications report that goose sales are on the rise at high-end retailers and restaurants, including Harrods.) Folk belief relays that eating goose on Michaelmas protects against financial hardship; Germans hold that a Michaelmas goose’s breastbone can predict weather.

With the Michaelmas Daisy in bloom, Christian maidens used to gather crab apples and spell out the initials of potential lovers; agriculturally, apple harvest season is in full swing in Ireland during Michaelmas. (Read more at Wikipedia or CatholicCulture.) If eating an apple with goose isn’t on your Michaelmas menu, try a fun craft made with apples, courtesy of FishEaters.

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