The Feast of Michaelmas

29th September 2010
Throughout Medieval and Renaissance Europe the 29th September was Michaelmas or the Feast of Saint Michael. This important date in the calendar was named after the great Archangel responsible for the defeat of Lucifer in Christian iconography. Michaelmas is also naturally associated with the shortening days of autumn and also with the occurrence of the nearby autumnal equinox when day and night are of equal length. Some of the best flowers in the garden at this time, and some of my all-time favourites are 'Michaelmas Daisies.'
purple flowering daisies with yellow centres
A potful of glorious Michaelmas Daisies.


It was traditional to eat a goose on the feast of St Michael, and there is a notion in English folk lore that eating a goose on St Michaelmas will protect you against financial difficulties – Chancellor of the Exchequer please take note.

In ancient pagan Europe the Norse god Wotan was celebrated at this time, too - a warrior God. It was also what was termed a Quarter Day, marking the beginning of a new segment of the year or season – in this instance, autumn. In olden times, people received their quarterly wages or paid their rents on this day. And it was associated with the astrological sign of Libra - the Scales of Balance - the sun entering the zodiac sign of that name just a little before the feast day itself.
angel with weighing scales and halo
An Angel Weighing a Soul - by Ridolfo di Arpo Guariento.

Lucifer beware!

I like the idea of slaying Lucifer – a force for evil we are told (even though he started out as a good guy once upon a time  - as an angel of light). Thus, Lucifer or the Devil is often conveniently represented in art as a Dragon. Dragons aren't necessarily bad (they are actually a force for good in many Eastern traditions), but here in the West they tend at the very least to be symbolic of obstacles. So, perhaps this is also a day to consider what personal dragons we can eliminate from our lives. Old worn-out ideas and phobias; inhibitions; people or places that no longer serve any real purpose to our evolution and happiness. Let them go!
old engraving of angel slaying dragon, by Durer
By Albrecht Durer 'Michaels Kampf mit dem Drachen.'
purple michaelmas daisy with butterfly
Michaelmas Daisy - with visitor.
Authored by Robert Stephen Parry

You might also like

Stuart England
Inigo Jones - England's pioneering architect
composite of very small photos of architecture
19th-Century Art
Caspar David Friedrich - Die Lebensstufen
painting shows ships at sea and people on shaw, 19th century garb
Remembering Anne Boleyn through the ages.
half profile sketch of Tudor woman, gable hood
History & Culture
Flowers at the Gate. A brief history of giving quietly
small image of man in gardening clothes with watering can
small up-arrow linking to top of page