Michaelmas is quickly approaching: September 29th (next Saturday)! It will come as no surprise to you that I love St. Michael’s Day. It was the first feast we celebrated when we started observing the Christian Year in 2009, the Fall before our conversion to the Catholic faith.
What is Michaelmas?
Michaelmas (pronounced Mickel-mas) is a feast day celebrating the Archangels. It follows the fall Ember Days during which Christians traditionally thanked God for his creation and the bounty of the earth and fasted penitentially. Michaelmas was a Holy Day of Obligation until the 18th century and honors St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael. My linguist husband particularly likes the name Michael which means in Hebrew “Who Is Like God?” and is the battle cry of the angels. St. Michael fought against Lucifer and the fallen angels and defended the friends of God. You probably remember that St. Gabriel announced the coming of Jesus to the Virgin Mary and also the coming of John the Baptist to Zachariah. St. Raphael is found in the book of Tobit.
For a seasonal table for Michaelmas, think of autumnal foods. Usually our Michaelmas feast is full of beta-carotene.
Carrots are very traditional. According to a Scottish custom, women would harvest wild carrots on Michaelmas by digging triangular holes with a three-pronged mattock. Apparently the holes represent St. Michael’s shield and the mattock represents his trident.
I love this Whiskey-Glazed Carrots recipe by The Pioneer Woman. These are seriously amazing. Whiskey? Butter? Brown Sugar? Can you go wrong?
Another traditional food is St. Michael’s Bannock, a simple, sweet bread. We’ve used the recipe from Meredith Gould’s The Catholic Home. It’s super easy and turns out well.
Goose is also very traditional but we’ve discovered that it’s almost impossible to find an organic goose that’s remotely in our price range. So, we’ve cooked turkeys or chickens for the occasion. Last year we roasted sweet potatoes and onions with the chicken which turned out so yummy.
Blackberries: There’s a legend concerning Lucifer falling into a blackberry bush after being expelled from heaven by St. Michael and spitting on the blackberries to make them bitter so that they cannot be picked after Michaelmas.
On Michaelmas Day the devil puts his foot on the blackberries.
We’ve had blackberry buckle and blackberry cobbler but since they’re not in season right now in Florida, we try to just get organic frozen berries.
A super easy and yummy blackberry cobbler recipe is The Pioneer Woman’s.
A Michaelmas Prayer:
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
The aster flower, also known as the Michaelmas Daisy is in season in North America at the end of September. We meant to grow some from seed but…never got around to it. Last year my two sweet boys picked beautiful Daisies they found and Bachelor’s Buttons and Marigolds from our garden to decorate our Michaelmas table because I was almost 9 months pregnant:
What a pretty sight to wake up to on Michaelmas morning!
“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.”
How does your family celebrate the Feast of St. Michael and the Archangels?
For recipes and reflections on the Christian Year, check out Feast! Real Food, Reflections, and Simple Living for the Christian Year.