Celebrations: Preparing for Michaelmas and the Feast of St. Francis

I have to admit this is my favorite time of year because it’s all my favorite holidays grouped so close together.
Since Henry is a little older this year we’ve been talking about how to incorporate our faith more in our home and we’re looking forward to incorporating more of the liturgical year into our home life.  Luckily, being on the Catholic side this means we get the opportunity for a lot more little parties throughout the year (and our share of solemn days too of course).
Two of the Feast Days I’ve been most looking forward to are just around the corner:  Michaelmas and the Feast of St. Francis. 
For Michaelmas I’m drawn more to the older traditions the focused on celebrating the end of the harvest season; my father just told me that the combining guy is coming any day now so it’s just about that time.  My husband thinks the archangels (the day gets it’s name from Micheal the Archangel) are pretty nifty; he (we really) also love the idea of celebrating the passage of the seasons and this gives us the opportunity to do so much at once.  This holiday, while not often celebrated anymore, just seems bursting with opportunity to me.
St. Francis is, to use a colloquialism, my home-boy.  Seriously, even growing up Protestant I couldn’t ignore the fact that St. Francis (and his BFF St. Clare) were pretty awesome and I know I’m not the only one to consider them the unofficial Patron Saints of the Simple/Voluntary Simplicity movement – really voluntary simplicity, radical homemaking, back to the land homesteaders are just aging hipsters compared to those two.  I’m really excited to bring the teaches of this amazing man into our home!
I can’t tell you what our fantastic traditions are yet, because we don’t really have any yet.  But I can give you a run down of what we have planned.
Michaelmas (because of a wedding this year we’ll be celebrating on the 28th):
  • Food!  Carrots, Blackberries and Goose is traditional.  I’ve got plans for the first two, but I’m going to be honest – I plan on picking up a rotisserie chicken for the main course (sue me, it’s end of my long work week and we leave for wedding festivities in the morning).
  • Books – I’m still trying to track down a few related reading materials, but if nothing else we’ll pull out our “fall books” for a good pouring over.  Though not an archangel, I’ve got a copy of “Saint George and the Dragon” on reserve at the library, which seems to be a favorite for a lot of families.
  • Fire – Many traditions mention a “Michaelmas Bonfire” to officially usher in the fall/winter.  If the weather is right I think we might try to light our first fire in the fireplace!
The Feast of St. Francis:
  •  For the animals:  St. Francis well known for a love of and the affect he had on animals.  We’ll do a deep cleaning of our cat’s things, and perhaps gift him with a new toy.  I hope to take some supplies over to our local animal shelter, but need to research how they accept donations beforehand.
  • Books – I have a few St. Francis books ready to pick up from the library as well, and a copy of  Brother Sun, Sister Moon might make it’s way to us in time.
  • Family Activity – I’m thinking we might try to make something as a family – I’m leaning towards Pinecone Peanut Butter Bird Feeders. 
  • Food – We’ll see how industrious I can be about all of this, but I’d love to try my hand at a small batch of frangipane cream on some kind of desert.  This might end up being a fruit tart from the co-op with whipped cream on top, but I’m going for the A for effort.  😉
Those are the main ones we’ll be focusing on until the end of October, but we’re rather excited about the whole thing.
Honestly, and yes it may be a little selfish, but I love having so many special days (Secular and Holy) to fill the space between the beginning of Fall and well into the New Year it just makes me look forward to the “dark days of winter” that much more.
For some great Michaelmas ideas go check out Haley over @ Carrots for Michaelmas and for a list of great St. Francis books visit Elizabeth @ In the Heart of My Home.  And if you’re interested in learning more about or planning out your liturgical celebrations I recommend the Calendar over at Catholic Culture.org
What special days do you celebrate in the fall?  Do you have any special traditions for these days?

    2 thoughts on “Celebrations: Preparing for Michaelmas and the Feast of St. Francis

    1. Wow, Molly! So, so cool!!

      We, unfortunately, celebrate NO holidays. (I mean, besides Christmas and Easter). I think it's a big old shame and I've been wanting to change that for quite some time. We hardly celebrate the Canadian Thanksgiving (which is next month). I would LOVE to celebrate the liturgical year, as well as pagan feast days like the equinoxes and solstices. But it's so hard when nobody else does. Mennonites and Evangelicals just don't know how to party (I live in the intersection of both worlds). But feasts are meant to be celebrated in COMMUNITY. And since I'm not much of an administrator, I never get around to organizing anything. I want to change that. I need to change that! I need celebrations!! Especially during the Dark Days.

      Anyhow. Your ideas sound great, and I want to check out the links you provided for other ideas. Thanks! Happy Michaelmas! (If that's a real greeting…)


    2. Kathleen I completely understand where you're coming from – in fact there are very little extra holiday/feast day celebrations in our parish or the surrounding ones so we're pretty much taking this into our own hands, but I wish there was more of a community atmosphere – I was surprised that nowhere in town there was a St. Francis celebration – we have 4 local Catholic parishes, not including the ones within a 20-30 minute drive.

      I too love the idea of adding in our own celebrations of the “pagan” equinoxes and solstices, I want my kids to be aware of the majesty and “magic” surrounding the turn of the seasons! – luckily the Catholic Calender has many “conveniently” aligned Catholic holidays ;). I honestly think it's kind of cool to reflect on how people celebrated God before Christianity came to them!

      I think I need to write a little more about the “little holidays” and what their importance can be!


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