Michaelmas is the first Saint's festival we celebrate after school starts. It comes September 29th, after the Autumn Equinox, and just as the weather is on the verge of turning bitter and cold.
Archangel Michael fought against Satan, and was victorious, and cast the "dragon" out. The Irish say the devil landed in a blackberry patch, and blackberries shouldn't be eaten after this date! Most pictures of St. Michael show him with a spear and the dragon under foot, some, of course, are gorier than others. Sometimes he is holding a balance, weighing good and evil. Sometimes he is holding a globe, for he is the protector of Israel and the New World.
We celebrate St.Michael as a symbol of good prevailing over evil, of new beginnings, of faith and trust in the goodness of the world.
We have in the past added this holiday into our family life in a pretty simple way- blackberries for dessert, reading our story of St. Michael and the dragon. It always comes so fast, just as we're getting into the swing of a new school year's routine, and I am always caught unprepared for any really thoughtful celebration.
This year I will be prepared. On the 21st of September we will prepare our Michaelmas table- an autumn table, with a picture of St. Michael, a dragon of some kind, our lovely wooden scale, with some dark, "evil" stones in one side, a dish of jewels to choose from as the children add one each day, til "good" overcomes "evil". Also a branch or two with some pressed leaves hanging, a little vase of Michaelmas Daisies (asters) from our garden, our school candle, a neatly printed poem or verse on watercolor paper.
On the 29th we will read our St.Michael story, and as much fun as it would be to cook a goose, as the tradition suggests, I just don't know if that will really happen. We'll see. I'm hoping- it seems like roast goose with apples, carrots on the side, would be perfect. After all "He who eats goose on Michaelmas Day shan't money lack nor have debts to pay"! We will make a dragon out of bread dough, and have blackberry pie for dessert. Because, um, vanquishing the devil is as good a reason as I can think of to eat blackberries. Thank you St.Michael!