Monday, September 29, 2014
"Michaelmas Day, the 29th of September, properly named the day of St. Michael and All Angels, is a great festival of the Church of Rome, and also observed as a feast by the Church of England. In England, it is one of the four quarterly terms, or quarter-days, on which rents are paid, and in that and other divisions of the United Kingdom, as well as perhaps in other countries, it is the day on which burgal magistracies and councils are re-elected. The only other remarkable thing connected with the day is a widely prevalent custom of marking it with a goose at dinner.
"Michael is regarded in the Christian world as the chief of angels, or archangel. His history is obscure. In Scripture, he is mentioned five times, and always in a warlike character; namely, thrice by Daniel as fighting for the Jewish church against Persia; once by St. Jude as fighting With the devil about the body of Moses; and once by St. John as fighting at the head of his angelic troops against the dragon and his host. Probably, on the hint thus given by St. John the Romish church taught at an early period that Michael was employed, in command of the loyal angels of God, to overthrow and consign to the pit of perdition Lucifer and his rebellious associates—a legend which was at length embalmed in the sublimest poetry by Milton.
"Sometimes Michael is represented as the sole arch-angel, sometimes as only the head of a fraternity of archangels, which includes likewise Gabriel, Raphael, and some others. He is usually represented in coat-armour, with a glory round his head, and a dart in his hand, trampling on the fallen Lucifer. He has even been furnished, like the human warriors of the middle ages, with a heraldic ensign—namely, a banner hanging from a cross....
"Angels are held by the Church of Rome as capable of interceding for men; wherefore it is that prayers are addressed to them and a festival appointed in their honour. Wheatley, an expositor of the Book of Common Prayer, probably expresses the limited view of the subject which is entertained in the Church of England, when he says, that 'the feast of St. Michael and All Angels is observed that the people may know what blessings are derived from the ministry of angels.'
"Amongst Catholics, Michael, or, as he has been named, St. Michael, is invoked as 'a most glorious and warlike prince,' chief officer of paradise,' captain of God's hosts,' receiver of souls,' 'the vanquisher of evil spirits,' and 'the admirable general.' "
--from Chambers Book of Days.
"September 29th (Michaelmas) is the day of the Feast of St. Michael. Like St. Swithin's Day, St. Michael's Day was said to give a clue to the weather to come: if Michaelmas brings many acorns, Christmas will bring snow; if Michaelmas was fair, the winter would have much sunshine but sharp and nipping wind; if Michaelmas was dark, Christmas would be light."
--The Annotated Mother Goose.