Happy Michaelmas! Yes, today is Michaelmas, or the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels.
Here’s a bit more information about it from our Tudor Society Feast Days ebook.
It was, and is, celebrated on 29th September, and was the feast day of St Michael the Archangel and Protector of the Church. St Michael is referred to as “the archangel Michael” in the Book of Jude, which tells of him “disputing with the devil about the body of Moses”, and then the Book of Revelation tells of a war in heaven and depicts St Michael as leading God’s armies against the dragon (Satan) and his angels, and defeating him.
The festival of ‘harvest home’ or ‘ingathering’ was, and still is, celebrated when the harvest was safely done. It was a thanksgiving for God’s help with the harvest and for the crop. It was essential to get the wheat and barley in before the autumn rains and cooler weather, otherwise the community could face starvation – wheat was needed for bread and barley was needed for ale. Professor Ronald Hutton explained the importance of the harvest in the TV series “Tudor Monastery Farm”. He explained that Bloody Flux, a disease common in the Tudor period, was actually caused by malnutrition because when the body was completely famished it suffered an intestinal haemorrhage. Famine was what happened when there was a bad harvest so people celebrated a good harvest and gave thanks for their farming success.