On September 29th we celebrate St. Michael and the archangels. This is a very honored feast given the amount of devotedness that surrounds St. Michael, but is also a day that follows the Fall Ember Days, and ushers in the Fall season. For those that are unfamiliar with the Ember Days you can see my most recent post below to learn more about them. I've noticed a funny little difference in how Catholics pronounce the name of this feast day. Many Northern Catholics say (Mickle-mas) and a lot of Southern Catholics say (Mai-kle-mas). How do you say it? You can tell me in the comments!
What's in this guide?
A Brief About
What to Eat
How to Decorate
Ways to Pray
St. Michael's Lent
Who is he?
St. Michael is the archangel who fought against Lucifer, the fallen angel, and cast him out of Heaven. Did you know that today was a holy day of obligation until the 18th century? A few years ago I read Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn with my honors Theology students. In the book he touches on angels and the spiritual warfare that goes on with little to no awareness on our part. We were all intrigued by this point, that there is a battle for our souls which the angels of God are fighting for us and with us. Many of my students explained that they had just simply, never thought about it before. This is a great day to begin contemplating that reality on our own and with our families, and to give thanks for the many supernatural things they do on our behalf.
What to eat?
1. Blackberry Desserts
Have you heard of this traditional Irish folk tale about St. Michael and Lucifer? It is said that when Satan was kicked out of Heaven that he landed in a blackberry patch and he returns every year to curse and spit on the fruit that he landed on making them sour so they cannot be picked after the feast of Michaelmas. This story intertwines beautifully with the agrarian cycle given that blackberries are only in season from May to September. Every year around this time when I plan for our annual blackberry dessert tradition they are on sale at our local grocery store.
Last year I made Blackberry Cobbler which you can find here.
And this year I'll be making blackberry turnovers, which my husband calls fruit calzones. 😂 Nothing is sacred...
Scottish custom explains how they would dig a triangular hole in the ground which represented St. Michael's shield so that they could better access the root of the carrots while harvesting them.
Here are some carrot recipes that I recommend.
He who eats goose on Michaelmas day; Shan’t money lack or debts pay.
The tradition of eating goose on Michaelmas comes from certain areas within the United Kingdom, in fact some still refer to the feast of St. Michael as "Goose Day." A couple of legends point to the origins of this story but without entire certainty as to which was true.
The first story states that when Queen Elizabeth I heard of the defeat of the Armada she was at dinner having goose. She saw goose as a token of good luck and promised to have it on Michaelmas every year. This custom spread and more people throughout the UK began doing it too. You can see that reflected in the rhyme above that those who eat goose will have good fortune.
The other story explains that Michaelmas was around the time that the farming debts were due and that those who were trying to persuade their landlord to leniency would have sought to convince them with geese. You can see how this also relates to the rhyme.
Either way, goose is a traditional dinner to have but if that is too expensive or difficult to find you could always adapt by doing turkey or roasting a whole chicken.
How to decorate!
The Aster flower, also known as the Michaelmas Daisy, is in bloom.
The Michaelmas Daises, among the dede weeds, Bloom for St Michael’s valorous deeds. And seems the last of flowers that stood, Till the feast of S. Simon and St Jude.
As the seasons change and the Spring and Summertime flowers begin to die, the little pointed and colorful astor flower named after St. Michael blooms. It gets its name in honor of the angel who fought against evil because this small yet brilliant flower fights against the impending gloomy, cold, and dark days of winter. It's in bloom all autumn and is fully of symbolism.
It is difficult for me to find Aster flowers where I am so I usually just go grab a happy bouquet of daisies to put on the dinner table.
What to pray! There are a wealth of St. Michael prayers out there and like everyone else I have my go-tos. To help you narrow in and avoid spending time scouring the internet for the perfect prayer, I'll share my three favorites.
1. The ever-so classic, St. Michael 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 evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls.
2. The St. Michael Chaplet
Click here to see the full text and print.
3. St. Michael Novena
“We honor you as a powerful protector of the Church and guardian of our souls. Inspire us with your humility, courage and strength that we may reject sin and perfect our love for our Heavenly Father.
In your strength and humility, slay the evil and pride in our hearts so that nothing will keep us from God.
St. Michael the Archangel, pray that we may be blessed by God with the zeal to live our lives in accordance with Christ’s teachings.
St. Michael the Archangel, you are the prince of angels but in your humility, you recognized that God is God and you are but His servant. Unlike Satan, you were not overcome with pride but were steadfast in humility. Pray that we will have this same humility.
It is in the spirit of that humility that we ask for your intercession for our petitions… (state your petitions)
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. Amen."
St. Michael's Lent
In short, St. Michael's Lent is the period of prayer and fasting in which St. Francis of Assisi received stigmata. It became tradition in the history of the Franciscans to imitate St. Francis in his prayer and fasting but that has sense fallen out of practice. Thanks to the fervor of the laity this has been on the rise in homes across the US and is regaining popularity.
You can learn all the details in my older post here.
I pray that you were able to gather helpful ideas for bringing the cultural richness of this feast day into your home. Tell me how you pronounce this day and what you will be doing to celebrate in the comments.