AskDefine | Define Michaelmas

Dictionary Definition

Michaelmas n : honoring the archangel Michael; a quarter day in England, Wales, and Ireland [syn: Michaelmas Day, September 29]

User Contributed Dictionary



(US) IPA: /ˈmɪkəlməs/


  1. a Christian feast in honour of the archangel Michael
  2. 29th September, the day it is celebrated



  • The Feast of St Michael and All Angels

Extensive Definition

Michaelmas (also the Feast of Ss. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael or the Feast of Michael and All Angels) is a day in the Christian calendar which occurs on 29 September. Because it falls near the equinox, it is associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days.
The Archangel Michael is one of the principal angelic warriors, seen as a protector against the dark of night, and the administrator of cosmic intelligence. Michaelmas has also delineated time and seasons for secular purposes as well, particularly in the United Kingdom and Ireland.


During the Middle Ages, Michaelmas was celebrated as a holy day of obligation, but this tradition was abolished in the 18th century. It was also one of the English and Welsh and Irish quarter days when accounts had to be settled. On manors, it was the day when a reeve was elected from the peasants. Traditional meal for the day include goose (a "stubble-goose", i.e. one prepared around harvest time) and a special cake called a St Michael's bannock. On the Isle of Skye, Scotland, a procession was held.

Autumn term in universities

It is used in the extended sense of autumn, used as the name of the first term of the academic year, which begins at this time, at various educational institutions in the United Kingdom and Ireland (typically those with lengthy history and traditions).

Use by legal profession

The Inns of Court of the English Bar and the Honorable Society of King's Inns in Ireland also have a Michaelmas term as one of their dining terms. It begins in September and ends towards the end of December.

Modern observances

Michaelmas is still celebrated in the Waldorf schools, which celebrate it as the "festival of strong will" during the autumnal equinox.

Old Michaelmas Day

Old Michaelmas Day falls on October 11 (October 10 according to some sources). According to an old legend, blackberries should not be picked after this date. This is because, so folklore goes, Satan was banished from Heaven on this day, fell into a blackberry bush and cursed the brambles as he fell into them. According to Morrell (1977), this old legend is well-known in all parts of the United Kingdom, even been known as far north as the Orkney Islands. More on this day can be found at the following link:


Michaelmas in Estonian: Mihklipäev
Michaelmas in Norwegian: Mikkelsmess
Michaelmas in Norwegian Nynorsk: Mikkelsmesse
Michaelmas in Narom: Fête Saint-Michi
Michaelmas in Finnish: Mikkelinpäivä
Michaelmas in Swedish: Mickelsmäss
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1