As days grow short
hearts grow bright.
Saint Michael with his sword
shines out against the night…
The above is an excerpt from a poem in Celebrating Festivals with Children by Freya Jaffke.
For those asking, what is Michaelmas? It’s a day, at the end of September that marks the time of year when the light & intensity of summer has dwindled. In the Northern hemisphere the days grow shorter and colder. It’s a time when we look inward and learn from the story of the archangel Michael & the dragon. The Bible speaks of Michael hurling the dragon (Satan) out of heaven. The idea of an angel symbolizing all that is light and good, vanquishing evil is something all of us must do in our own inner lives. Simply put, it is casting out inner dragons. What are the dragons we cast out? What thoughts are not filled with light? Do they serve us? It’s an inner work that is especially important for those that live in cold and snowy climates. When days are spent inside keeping warm, inner joy, light and the courage and strength that the archangel Michael symbolizes is so important to see us through.
Children learn about Michaelmas through story & activity. One of the activities we enjoy in our home is making the Michaelmas candle. The Michaelmas candle is written about in All Year Round, A Calendar of Celebrations.
You can buy or make your own candle to use for Michaelmas. We chose to roll candles this year.
My son Michael drew a dragon on paper and then while I cut the beeswax dragon scales & spikes he put it all together. The thin sheets of beeswax warms with your touch and easily sticks to the candle.
Michael cut out the stars at the top with a wax cutter. On Michaelmas, September 29th, the candle is lit. Last year I was so impressed to hear my six year old son exclaim, “Mom! The flame is St. Michael’s sword and he’s defeating the dragon!” The Michaelmas candle is a reminder to hold the light of good inside.
Do you celebrate Michaelmas in your home? What does Michaelmas mean to you? What are your cherished Michaelmas traditions?