On the 29th of September the Church celebrates the feast of the Archangels Rafael, Gabriel, and Michael. For centuries this holy day was called Michaelmas, the day the faithful went to Saint Michael’s Mass.
You may know Saint Michael the Archangel from Revelations, where we read about him throwing Satan out of Heaven and leading God’s war against evil, and you may be familiar with his prayer, which I have often said when I get the heebie jeebies.
But personally, it was only recently that I discovered the fun feast of Michaelmas and its traditions. As my friends, family, and I have kept the day we have even added a few modern twists to the celebrations.
If you’re looking for some ideas of how to celebrate, here’s a list to help you out. Some of the ideas are super easy and some will take a bit more effort but no matter your season of life there should be something for you.
It’s all in how you say it
Let’s start by making sure we’re saying it correctly. Michaelmas is pronounced “mick-el-mess.” If you weren’t saying it the right way, don’t worry. I was pronouncing it wrong for years.
The legend goes that when St. Michael threw Satan out of Heaven, as described in Revelations 12, the devil landed on a blackberry bush, which he then spit on and cursed. Therefore, blackberries are to be picked and eaten by Michaelmas, or before the devil gets a chance to spit on them. Treat your friends and yourself to a bottle of blackberry wine or buy some fresh blackberries and put them on your oatmeal, bake them into a pie or cobbler, or top your angel food cake with them for a double nod to the feast day.
Dress for the day
My friend Molly hilariously pointed out that in many pictures of Saint Michael it looks like he’s wearing leggings. So in honor of the feast day pull on your favorite pair, be sure to wear a top that covers your bum, and then take a picture and share it with the hashtag #leggingsformichaelmas.
Thank a Police Officer
Saint Michael is the patron saint of police officers and so I can’t think of a better day to stop by your local police station with a yummy treat to thank them for their service. Tell them that it’s their feast day so you brought some food for feasting and let them know that you are praying for them in an extra special way on Michaelmas.
Feasting for the Feast Day
A traditional Michaelmas dinner includes roasted goose and carrots, both of which are “in season” in late September in Britain. It’s a bit harder to find goose nowadays so I like to roast a chicken, stuffed with onions, garlic, and herbs; surrounded by potatoes and carrots; and seasoned with butter, salt, and pepper. I add fresh baked bread and my family feels like royalty.
Gather with your family or invite some girlfriends over to enjoy the feast with you! If you don’t have time to bake bread, chop carrots, and roast a chicken don’t worry; we’ve also feasted on rotisserie chicken, hot and fresh from our local grocery store, and a bag of frozen carrots.
Sacraments and sacramentals
Last but not least, lean into your faith. Display a Saint Michael holy card in a prominent location in your home. Attend Mass. Say the prayer to Saint Michael.
Choose one, two, or all of these ways to live out your faith in an intentional, joyful way and enjoy the fact that our Catholic faith is beautiful, true, and fun. Happy Michaelmas to you!
Written by Bonnie Engstrom. Find out more about her here.