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Saint Michael the Archangel

Michaelmas, the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel (also the Feast of SS Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael or the Feast of Michael and All Angels) is a day in the Western Christian calendar which occurs on 29 September. Because it falls near the equinox, it is associated in the northern hemisphere with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days. Michael is the greatest of all the archangels and is honored for his defeat of Lucifer in the battle for the heavens in the Bible.

The archangel Michael is one of the principal angelic warriors, seen as a protector against the dark of night, and the administrator of cosmic intelligence. Michaelmas has also delineated time and seasons for secular purposes as well, particularly in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The Eastern Orthodox Churches do not observe Michaelmas. The Greek Orthodox honor the archangels on 8 November instead.


During the Middle Ages, Michaelmas was celebrated as a Holy Day of Obligation, but this tradition was abolished in the 18th century. Lutheran Christians consider it a principal feast of Christ, and the Lutheran Confessor, Philip Melanchthon, wrote a hymn for the day that is still sung in Lutheran Churches: "Lord God to Thee We Give." It was also one of the English and Welsh and Irish quarter days when accounts had to be settled. On manors, it was the day when a reeve was elected from the peasants. Traditional meal for the day includes goose (a "stubble-goose", i.e. one prepared around harvest time) and a special cake called a St Michael's bannock. On the Isle of Skye, Scotland, a procession was held.

In addition, the traditional printer's fete, the wayzgoose, was celebrated on or around Michalemas, again, as a celebration of the changing seasons, it being the advent of work by candlelight. The master printer would provide a feast for his journeymen and apprentices, and as per tradition, a stubble-goose was also prepared.

Differences in number of archangels

In Anglican and Episcopal tradition, there are three or four archangels in its calendar for 29 September feast for St. Michael and All Angels: namely Michael, Gabriel and Raphael,[1] and often, Uriel.[2][3][4][5][6] The Bible itself identifies only Michael as "the archangel" (book of Jude, verse 9) and does not identify any other creatures as being archangels.

Autumn term in universities

Main Reading Room, Bodleian Law Library, University of Oxford - 20081018

Main Reading Room, Bodleian Law Library, University of Oxford on Michaelmas

It is used in the extended sense of autumn, used as the name of the first term of the academic year, which begins at this time, at various educational institutions in the United Kingdom and Ireland (typically those with lengthy history and traditions, notably the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham)

Use by legal profession

The Inns of Court of the English Bar and the Honorable Society of King's Inns in Ireland also have a Michaelmas term as one of their dining terms. It begins in September and ends towards the end of December.

The term is also the name of the first of four terms into which the legal year is divided by the courts of England and Wales.

Modern observances

Michaelmas is still celebrated in the Waldorf schools, which celebrate it as the "festival of strong will" during the autumnal equinox.

Old Michaelmas Day

Old Michaelmas Day falls on 11 October (10 October according to some sources). According to an old legend, blackberries should not be picked after this date. This is because, so folklore goes, Satan was banished from Heaven on this day, fell into a blackberry bush and cursed the brambles as he fell into them. In Yorkshire it is said that the devil had spat on them. According to Morrell (1977), this old legend is well-known in all parts of the United Kingdom, even as far north as the Orkney Islands.

Further reading

  • Morrell, P. (1977). Festivals and Customs. London: Pan (Piccolo). ISBN 0330 0252151

External links


  1. website. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  2. Saint Uriel Church website patron Saint web page. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  3. Lesser Feasts and Fasts, p.
  4. website Michaelmas page. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  5. St. George's Lennoxville website, What Are Anglicans, Anyway? page. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  6. Christ Church Eureka website, September Feasts page. Retrieved 15 September 2008.

fo:Mikkjalsmessa no:Mikkelsmess nn:Mikkelsmesse nrm:Fête Saint-Michi fi:Mikkelinpäivä sv:Mickelsmäss

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