Michaelmas or Feast of Michael and All Angels

The final September holiday is the Feast of St Michael and All Angels or Michaelmas and is a Christian holiday. It is not a major holiday and I wasn't really aware of it when I was growing up.   This holiday falls on September 29th and since it falls near the equinox is associated with autumn and the days getting shorter.

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The holiday celebrates the Archangel Michael from the Bible who is honored for defeating Lucifer in the war in heaven.  Michael is believed to have hurled Lucifer from heaven for disobeying the Father’s plan. The earthly embodiment is often seen as a knight with a sword standing over the corpse of a dragon. The knight being Michael and of course the dragon being Lucifer. This festival comes just after the autumn equinox as the nights are growing longer and darkness seems to over come us more quickly than it did just a few weeks ago. It is the power of Michael to bring light in dark times, to remind followers of Christ and to help believers keep their faith that tomorrow will come, it will be fresh, it will be a new start. (This excerpt was adapted from here)

The Waldorf schools had so many ideas and so much information for teaching children about Michaelmas if you are interested in exploring this holiday even more I highly recommend checking out a Waldorf school site.  There were many different dragon crafts, poems, and plays to explain the holiday.

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

For the craft for Michaelmas we made swords out of cardboard.  I drew some sword shapes on an old piece of cardboard we had lying around.  Then took out some aluminum foil and the boys wrapped up the blades so they would be silver.   For finishing touches I let them decorate the rest with roll on paint, washi tape, and glitter glue.  I decorated the baby's sword for him- yeah that's right I said the baby's sword, I mean he needs to fend off his older brothers somehow or else they would make him be the dragon...

 Free hand drawing of swords and cut out.

Free hand drawing of swords and cut out.

 Aluminum wrapping the blade

Aluminum wrapping the blade

 Decorating is serious business.

Decorating is serious business.

 Posing with swords.

Posing with swords.

 Action shot. 

Action shot. 

There seemed to be several foods associated with Michaelmas including the usual fall harvest foods, as well as goose, and blackberries.  According to an old Irish folk tale, blackberries were supposed to have been harvested and used up by this date, because when Satan was kicked out of Heaven, he landed in a blackberry patch -- and returns each year to curse and spit on the fruits of the plant he landed on, rendering them inedible thereafter.  So we decided to make blackberry crumble. You can find the recipe we worked from here.

For the filling

  • large baking apples-should be a little tart (there are 4 in the picture because whenever I am preparing a meal the kids want some of it right away, so one apple was eaten during the chopping)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp of butter
  • 12 oz blackberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of cinnamon and a  pinch of ground cloves
  • about 1/4 cup water

For the crumble

  • 1/2 cup of diced refridgerated butter
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • sprinkling of brown sugar
  • confectioners' sugar (to dust)

Method

  1. Peel, core and dice the apples into pieces around ½-inch cubes.
  2. Now add the water to a saucepan, add butter and the heat until melted; then add the apple chunks and gently saute, add cloves, sugar and the pinch of cinnamon, continuing stirring until apples are soft but not too soft, add the blackberries to the apples and stir very gently.
  3. Remove from heat after about three minutes. 
  4.  Dice refridgerated butter into cubes about ¼-inch in size.
  5. To make the topping, thoroughly mix the flour and sugar, then place the chilled-diced butter into the mix, then using a knife or we used a potato masher, cut/or mash the butter into the mixture until very crumbly. The crumble needs to very fine, similar to breadcrumbs.  The recipe we used said to spoon the fruit into a shallow round or oval oven-proof dish.  We used individual ramekins.
  6. Sprinkle crumble mixture over the top of fruit until fruit is covered. Dust over with a very little amount of brown sugar. Place in preheated oven (We did about 350F) and cook on centre shelf for 15-30 minutes or until the crumble is a light golden brown.
  7. Dust off the top with confectioners' sugar. Serve with fresh dairy cream or creamy custard.
 Cooking the fruit

Cooking the fruit

 Potato masher used to achieve our crumble

Potato masher used to achieve our crumble

 Berries in bowls.

Berries in bowls.

 Eating the leftover crumb topping

Eating the leftover crumb topping

 Finished single serving of crumble.

Finished single serving of crumble.