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Michaelmas is a Christian festival celebrated by some Western churches. Its name derives from the phrase "Michael's Mass", similar to how Christmas comes from "Christ's Mass". Michael is the greatest of the archangels, and defeats Satan in the war of heaven in the Book of Revelation. He also is the protector against the darkness of night. Michaelmas was started in the 5th century after a basilica was dedicated to Michael. The day now honors Michael and all the other angels. At one time it was obligatory to participate in Mass on the day, but that was discontinued in the 18th century. It is associated with autumn and the shortening of days, and in some countries—such as Britain and Ireland—it is known as one of the four "quarter days", along with Lady Day, Midsummer, and Christmas. On these days, servants were hired, rents were due, or leases were signed. This also once was looked at as the end of the harvest season. Geese are also strongly associated with the day, as geese were sometimes offered to landowners as part of their rent on the day. Also, it is believed that Queen Elizabeth I heard of the defeat of the Spanish Armada when she was eating goose, and decided she would eat goose again on Michaelmas. A tradition in Britain also was the eating of a fattened goose after the harvest, to protect against financial problems in the coming year.

How to Observe Michaelmas

If you belong to one of the churches that celebrates Michaelmas, you could go to Mass. If you are not Christian or of a denomination that celebrates Michaelmas, you could still celebrate the day by making and eating a goose. Maybe this will increase your financial luck for the year! You could also make some Saint Michael's Bannock—also known as Struan Micheil—to eat.

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