In the traditional liturgical calendar, September 29th was celebrated as the feast of St. Michael the Archangel. In Britain, the holiday became known as "Michaelmas," since the faithful gathered for "Michael's Mass" on that day.
In the contemporary calendar, Saints Gabriel and Raphael are also honored on St. Michael's feastday, but in our home, we still call it Michaelmas and focus on the older celebration, which specifically commemorates when St. Michael cast Lucifer out of Heaven.
I’ve written about St. Michael in previous years. Here are some more ideas for celebrating the holiday in your home.
- Go blackberry picking. Legend has it that when St. Michael cast Satan out of Heaven, the devil fell into a blackberry brier and cursed it. It's supposed to be bad luck to pick blackberries after Michaelmas Day. If you still have blackberries ripe where you live, have a berry-picking excursion, complete with story-telling of the legend. Afterwards, you can bake a tasty dessert with them to celebrate.
- Roast a goose! Goose and Michaelmas just go together and always have done. In England during the Middle Ages, it was considered to be good luck if your family could afford a goose for this beloved feastday. The bird was also a symbol for St. Michael, seeing as they both have wings. If you can't obtain (or don't wish to obtain) a goose, do consider roasting some sort of poultry for dinner, such as a chicken or a duck.
- In England, St. Michael has long been associated with St. George. St. Michael cast out Satan, who is often depicted as a serpent. St. George was legendarily famous for slaying dragons. The connection is easy to see. Why not gather the family around to enjoy a read aloud of St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. The gorgeous illustrations, reminiscent of medieval illustrated manuscripts, give a historical and liturgical flavor to the tale that is perfect for Michaelmas.
- Talk about St. Michael with your family. Young boys, in particular, seem to be drawn to St. Michael's heroism and position as the commander of God's Heavenly host. Speak about how we, as Christians, are warriors for Christ. Talk about the significance of this calling. Ask each family member to commit to one way in which they can strive to boldly do battle for God's Glory in the coming year.
- Make toy swords with the little boys in your life (this is easily done by cutting out cardboard in the shape of a sword and gluing tinfoil to the "blade" portion). You can fashion some angel wings, too, if you'd like. Let the boys don whatever play armor they've got. Then, let them have at it!
- St. Michael is God's chief warrior against Satan. It is fitting that, on his feast day, we would seek his intercession and protection against the devil's snares in our own lives. Pray that St. Michael would defend you and your loved ones from the temptations of Lucifer, and that he might aid you in your fight as God's warriors. Again, this goes over particularly well with the lads of the household.
Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
St. 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 Divine Power of God -- cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Picture Credit: “St. Michael” by Raphael
This post has been edited from the original version, posted September 29, 2009.