Saint Michael the Archangel

Michaelmas, the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel (also the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, the Feast of the Archangels, or the Feast of Saint 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 defeating Lucifer in the war in heaven.[1]

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 as one of the quarter days.

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, 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.

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,[2] and often, Uriel.[3][4][5][6][7] 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

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 Glasgow, Cambridge, Oxford, King's College London, Durham, Aberystwyth and Dublin).

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 Wales and England.[8]

The U.S. Supreme Court follows this tradition (though not by name) by convening each new term the first Monday in October, which is shortly after Michaelmas.[9]

Modern observances

Michaelmas is still celebrated in the Waldorf schools, which celebrate it as the "festival of strong will" during the autumnal equinox. Rudolf Steiner considered it the second most important festival after Easter ("he is risen, therefore he can be laid in the grave.")[10]

Old Michaelmas Day

Old Michaelmas Day falls on October 11 (October 10 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. In Cornwall, a similar legend prevails, however, the saying goes that the devil urinated on them.

See also

  • St Michael and All Angels Church


  1. ^ Richard Freeman Johnson (2005), Saint Michael the Archangel in medieval English legend, Boydell Press, p. 105, http://books.google.com/books?id=w9CkldubfRAC&pg=PA105#v=onepage&q&f=false, retrieved 2010-07-11 
  2. ^ Oremus.org website. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  3. ^ Saint Uriel Church website patron Saint web page. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  4. ^ Episcopal Church, Standing Liturgical Commission. The proper for the lesser feasts and fasts: together with the fixed holy days, Church Hymnal Corp., 1988, ISBN 978-0-89869-214-3. p. 380
  5. ^ Anglican.org website Michaelmas page. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  6. ^ St. George's Lennoxville website, What Are Anglicans, Anyway? page. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  7. ^ Christ Church Eureka website, September Feasts page. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  8. ^ The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom; Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Judicial Sitting for the Michaelmas Term, Monday 4th October –Tuesday 21st December 2010, http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/docs/michaelmas_term_2010_v03.pdf, retrieved 2010-11-08 
  9. ^ Supreme Court of the United States, The Court and Its Procedures, http://www.supremecourt.gov/about/procedures.aspx, retrieved 2010-11-08, "A Term of the Supreme Court begins, by statute, on the first Monday in October." 
  10. ^ Cycle of the Year, Lectures from RS Archive-GA223.

Further reading

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

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Michaelmas — Mich ael*mas, n. [Michael + mass religious service; OE. Mighelmesse.] The feast of the archangel Michael, a church festival, celebrated on the 29th of September. Hence, colloquially, autumn. [1913 Webster] {Michaelmas daisy}. (Bot.) See under… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Michaelmas — See quarter day. Collins dictionary of law. W. J. Stewart. 2001 …   Law dictionary

  • Michaelmas — early 12c., Sanct Micheles mæsse, the feast of St. Michael (Sept. 29, an English quarter day), from MICHAEL (Cf. Michael) + MASS (Cf. mass) (n.2). Goose is the day s traditional fare since at least 15c …   Etymology dictionary

  • Michaelmas — ► NOUN ▪ the day of the Christian festival of St Michael, 29 September. ORIGIN Old English, «Saint Michael s Mass», referring to the Archangel Michael …   English terms dictionary

  • Michaelmas — [mik′əl məs] n. [ME Mighelmesse < OE Michaeles mæsse: see MICHAEL & MASS1] the feast of the archangel Michael, September 29 …   English World dictionary

  • Michaelmas — /mik euhl meuhs/, n. Chiefly Brit. a festival celebrated on September 29 in honor of the archangel Michael. Also called Michaelmas Day. [bef. 1150; ME Mighelmes; OE (Sanct) Michaeles masse (St.) Michael s mass] * * * ▪ Christian festival… …   Universalium

  • Michaelmas — UK [ˈmɪk(ə)lməs] / US noun [countable/uncountable] Word forms Michaelmas : singular Michaelmas plural Michaelmases 29th September, when some Christians remember Saint Michael …   English dictionary

  • Michaelmas — n. the feast of St Michael, 29 September. Phrases and idioms: Michaelmas daisy an autumn flowering aster. Michaelmas term Brit. (in some universities) the autumn term. Etymology: OE sancte Micheles maeligsse Saint Michael s mass: see MASS(2) …   Useful english dictionary

  • Michaelmas — /ˈmɪkəlməs/ (say mikuhlmuhs) noun a Christian festival celebrated on 29 September in honour of the archangel Michael. Also, Michaelmas Day. {Middle English, Old English (Sanct) Michaeles masse (St) Michael s mass} …   Australian-English dictionary

  • Michaelmas —    The feast of St Michael the Archangel, 29 September, is one of the *Quar ter Days, a date for the payment of rents and the beginning or ending of hiring engagements (see *hiring fairs). It was also a day for feasting, the traditional fare… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

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