Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…


“And there was warre in heauen, Michael and his Angels fought against the dragon, & the dragon fought and his angels, and preuailed not, neither was their place found any more in heauen. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the deuill and Satan, which deceiueth the whole world: hee was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:7-9
For the last several years, our family has been attempting to recapture something of the richness of the traditional church year. We started small by celebrating things like St. Lucy Day, St. Nicholas Day, and Shrove Tuesday. Then we tried to ramp up our Eastertide celebrations as well. Over the last two years, we’ve done away with making Christmas a day to open a ton of presents and have instead given a big gift on Christmas followed by eleven more days of small things (the twelve days of Christmastide), all culminating in a Twelfth Night/Epiphany party when we bake a three kings cake and add the wise men to our nativity. This year, we’ve decided to try a new holiday: Michaelmas.

Michaelmas is this Saturday, September 29, and in the Middle Ages was the traditional beginning of winter. The harvest was in, and the hedges were opened on Michaelmas in order to let the cattle and sheep graze on the stubble of the harvested fields. In the followings weeks, the fields that had lain fallow the previous year were plowed and sown with rye. This was also the beginning of the fiscal year and the day when accounts were settled and workers were paid. So, yeah. Time to party.

Most importantly though, Michaelmas was chosen as a day to commemorate St. Michael the archangel and his victory over the dragon described in Revelation 12 when the dragon/devil and his fallen angels were cast out of heaven. This was an especially popular holiday in the British Isles as St George, the dragon-slaying patron of Merrie England, was sometimes portrayed in art as an earthly manifestation of St. Michael.

So how are we in the Davis house going to go about celebrating the warrior-angel who cast Satan out of heaven? Well, there will of course be food. That’s kind of a given. But also, unbeknownst to our children, I’m working on a secret project to surprise them with on Saturday. Shh… Don’t tell anyone…


Mom said…
Rick, seriously, how did you become so weird? It could'nt have all come from me. What about Grandad's bd? Which actually has nothing to do with you being Love ya buddy!
Erica said…
Nice. I suppose those will get painted silver, right?
Rick said…
I think I'm going to bevel the edges so they're not so clunky and then either stain them or rub them with beeswax.
DebD said…
It's always quite heartening when people incorporate the church year into their family's lives. In the East the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and All the Bodiless Hosts is celebrated on Nov. 8th. This began in the early 4th century. Don't know when the West changed the date but, either way, it's still nice. And, I love the secret project. What fun for your children
Rick said…

This is one of those interesting cases of several holidays being combined into one or two events.

The earliest recorded feast dedicated to St. Michael was on September 6 in the third century.

In Constantinople there were multiple feasts dedicated to Saint Michael and the Archangels: June 9 commemorated the appearance of Michael to Constantine; others were celebrated on June 18, October 27, Nobember 8, and December 10. These were eventually subsumed in the 4th century into one celebration of Michael and all the angels on November 8. The Egyptian Christians celebrated the same feast on November 12.

The date of the Western feast comes from a basilica in Rome dedicated in honor of St. Michael in the 5th century on September 30; the celebration came to be held on the eve of that day, September 29. The Normans traditionally celebrated a feast to St. Michael on October 11, but eventually the Roman date pushed the old one out. Oct. 11 is still celebrated in some places as Old Michaelmas Day, though.

Anyway, lots of free information that might be interesting.

DebD said…
Yes, there are many Feasts commemorating St. Michael. Having multiple feasts is not uncommon - at least in the Eastern tradition. But usually there is one that is "The" feastday. The one where Michaels and Michelles will celebrate their name day - such as Nov. 8th in the East. I assume that Michaelmas is just such the day for Western Liturgical Christians. The Feast of the Miracle at Colossee (Sept. 6th) is quite an beautiful story
(for your viewing pleasure ;) )

Very occasionally different EO Churches will celebrate the saints Name Day on a different date. St.Photini/Svetlana (the woman at the well) comes to mind. She is primarily celebrated in Feb. in the Greek tradition and on Mar. 20th in the Slavic traditions. The dates are too far apart to blame that one on the Old calendar/New Calendar issue! LOL.

I do find it all quite interesting. I hadn't known about the Old Michaelmas day. I'll have to store that in my "If I'm ever on Jeopardy" memory bank.
Rick said…
Interesting stuff. Thanks for the info!