Wednesday, October 1, 2008

In Praise of Michaelmas

September 29th is the Feast day of St. Michael the Archangel (and All Angels). Being good Catholics, we are always up for a party. We began to celebrate Michaelmas some years ago in honor of our Scots and English heritage, and of course, like everything else we do, it got way out of hand, and now I find myself sculpting dragons out of piecrust every Michaelmas Night.

A bit about St. Michael - every good child knows that Michael the Archangel was the fellow who cast Satan out of Heaven. Around the 6th century, his day became a proper Feast day on the church calendar. Now, St. George (the dragonslayer), who is the patron saint of England, was St. Michael's earthly representative. So now enters the dragon (wasn't that a film?). But I'm getting ahead of myself...

The Sunday before Michaelmas is the day for bringing in the carrots and other root vegetables from the fields to be stored away for the winter, known in Scotland as Domhnach Curran - Carrot Sunday. So tradition would have us going out into the garden and digging them up...instead, we hied awa' to the supermarket and bought ourselves a bag full.

Now I hate to admit it, but I'm not that fond of carrots, so I hide them in a stew. Just as long as you have carrots, I don't think it matters how. After all, Michaelmas is also a day to go out and steal horses, and you don't see me doing that either.

But now for the best honor of dear old St. George, who slew the dragon and saved the good English folk....
It being the harvest time, you get yourself some nice apples and mix up your favorite apple pie filling. And this next part is very important! The youngest female of the household must stir the apples thrice around (for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) saying,

Progeny and prosperity of family,

Mystery of Michael,

Protection of the Trinity.

In Scotland, you would say this while stirring the struan, a cake made from all the grains grown upon the land during the year. (We like apple pie better.) When the filling is all mixed up, we put it into a piecrust and then comes the wonderful part...
THE DRAGON!!! Yes, there he is, right on the pie. St. George would be proud. Poke three slits in the crust, again for the Trinity. Bake him right up and he comes out lovely and golden.

And then you must do as St. George himself would have done....

And we say the Prayer to St. Michael to protect us throughout the year:

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.

More about Michaelmas and some traditions and folklore surrounding it:


Kiamyka said...

I love reading your Blog :-) The Pie looks almost TOO ood to eat (Note I did say "Almost" lol
xx Chris

Cindy said...

Thanks, Chris! It was VERY yummy!

ginger said...

Wow thank you so much for teaching about Michaelmas! I learned so much. The pie was beautiful!!!

Cindy said...

Thanks, Ginger! Hope all is well with you and yours.

Me! said...

Beyond AWESOME! Thank you so much for that prayer. I am not Catholic but I am adopting this holiday. I am visiting Scotland in October and I will say this prayer in my rented flat which overlooks one of the most haunted places on earth...Greyfriars Kirkyard. I will feel protected! (at least in my tiny little mind) That pie crust is STUNNING! STUNNING! ~Sherrie

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