Paxtonvic’s Blog

Just another weblog

The good old days?

Its late,  Im still at it – writing up reports from the rural dean inspections I did back in May 2010. Well, actually they are archdeacons inspections but RDs often do them for the ADs.

I have got to one small parish in my notes and had quite forgotten that in the safe is to be found a copy of  ” 1726 Homilies against whoredom and adultery” by James Musgrove. I bet that went down a treat with the congregation in 1726!! I shant mention which church safe it is in incase there is  a mad rush to break in… much more interetsing than lead!

I wonder why the book has been kept? I wonder if all parish churches had one? Has anyone ever heard of him? I have googled him to no available – maybe its  a best seller on Amazon?

Its Michaelmas tomorrow – a lovely time of year…here are some more rough hewn notes:


Hebrew 1 v 5-end

John 1 v 47-end

Michaelmas is the Christian feast of St Michael the Archangel, celebrated in the Western Churches on September 29th and in the Eastern Orthodox churches on November 8th. In the RC church, it is the feast of St Michael, Gabriel and Raphael – all three archangels mentioned in scripture. Raphael ( it is God who heals)  in the Book of Tobit. Michael in book of Daniel. Another archangel – Uriel and 3 others in book of Enoch.

In the Anglican church. Its proper name is the Feast of St Michael and all Angels. Michael means “ Who is like God?”

The cult of St Michael began in the eastern church in the 4th century and spread to Christianity by the 5th century. St Michael traditionally had the position of leader of the heavenly armies  and is credited with expelling  Lucifer from heaven. and so the veneration of all angels was eventually incorporated into his cult.

The festival of Michaelmas, 29 September, marked the end of harvest time and a turning of the weather and seasons. The feast had both Christian and pagan origins.

Harvest was an important period of time in the medieval calendar. It lasted for two  months and the success of the harvest determined quality of life for months to come. A good harvest gathered was a reason for celebration and a poor harvest meant that prayers and good omens were sought for a better farming year to come. Either way, the feast of Michaelmas was eagerly anticipated.

The Origins of the Feast of Michaelmas

Like many medieval feasts and festivals, the feast of Michaelmas had both pagan and Christian origins. The feast’s pagan origins relate to the celebration of the autumnal equinox and the marking of shorter hours of daylight.

Aspects of both Christian and pagan traditions survived through generations to make up various aspects of medieval feast of Michaelmas. One of the oldest pagan practices, whose origins are obscure, is the corn dolly. This was made from the last sheaf of wheat of the harvest and was woven into a human shape, to take the place of honour on the harvest feast table and was believed to bring good fortune for the new farming year.

The Quarter Day of Michaelmas

Michaelmas was a quarter day, one of four days which divided the year into quarters. The cycle ran as follows; Christmas, Lady Day, Midsummer Day and Michaelmas.

Michaelmas day was traditionally a day of reckoning, as quarter days marked the times when rent was collected. Michaelmas also marked an end of many activities which could only be carried out during the summer months. These included fishing and fruit picking.

A winter curfew came into operation in many communities from Michaelmas Day and the church bell was sounded early in the evening from Michaelmas onwards, for the town gates to be closed to incomers until morning.

Celebrations to Mark the End of the Medieval Harvest

With the crops safely gathered, Michaelmas marked the time for landowners to stock barns and sheds full of food, ready for the winter ahead. Meats and fishes were salted, to be eaten during the cold months ahead and a new accounting and farming year officially began.

Many villages celebrated Michaelmas with a harvest feast, which offered all the best of what had been gathered and anticipated good times to come, with cupboards full for the coming months. It was traditional for a goose to be eaten at this feast- which supposedly protected people against financial need.

On the day after the feast, farm labourers and domestic servants presented themselves at a ‘mop fair’, where they could be hired for work in the coming farming year.

The Michaelmas celebrations of medieval times marked the end of the harvest season, which had begun in August with Lammas Day on August 1st. From here, thoughts would turn towards the coming winter season and the festivals of Halloween and Christmas, which would be highlights of the dark months ahead.

One final custom at MM – In Ireland finding a ring in a MM pie meant that one soon would be married,

St. Michael is patron of knights, policemen, soldiers, paramedics, ambulance drivers, etc., and also danger at sea, for the sick.  He is usually depicted in art carrying a sword and/or shield, battling Satan.

At this time of year, the Aster (Aster nova-belgii) blooms, and it has become known as the Michaelmas Daisy . The Michaelmas Daisy comes in many colors, from white to pink to purple. An old verse goes:

The Michaelmas Daisies, among dede weeds,
Bloom for St Michael’s valorous deeds.
And seems the last of flowers that stood,
Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.

September 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments