Tomorrow is the feast of St. Michael and All Angels which means that the feasting begins tonight!
St. Michael’s and All Angels Day is also known as Michaelmas (pronounced mik-uhl-mus) which means the mass of St. Michael. It is the special day set aside by the church to celebrate St. Michael, the captain of the heavenly host as well as all other angels.
So why, exactly, do we celebrate angels and why do we refer to Michael as a saint? All of this can be weird for some people but it need not be. A saint is simply someone who is in heaven with God and we celebrate St. Michael and all angels because we are thankful for everything that God has created, including angels. Angels are extremely important beings; they fight against the forces of evil, they protect us and they give us messages from God.
Maybe the reason why celebrating the angels of the bible is weird to us is because they are some, of the most misunderstood and misrepresented beings from the bible. The secular world depicts them as chubby, nude children floating around, shooting arrows. But in the bible they are powerful, awe-inspiring creatures. They usually incite fear when humans see them! The descriptions of angels in the bible are completely different than what the secular world depicts. Angels can have the appearance of men, they often have swords, they can move without humans seeing them or they can look rather bizarre as in Ezekiel 10:12, where it says their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands, and their wings, were completely full of eyes, as were their four wheels.
The angels of the bible don’t just float around, they are appointed messengers of God with the most important messages, they fight against the forces of darkness, they protect us, and they worship God in the heavenly places. They are super important!
Okay, so why do we celebrate Michael? Well, Michael is considered to be the captain of the heavenly host. Not only is he an archangel who is an angel of the highest rank, he is also a chief messenger of God and the chief leader of God’s battles in the war against Satan. Michael is considered to be the most powerful of all of God’s angels. He cast Lucifer and all of the fallen angels out of heaven, he was one who stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, and he fought Satan for the body of Moses.
Ways to Celebrate
Read about the different angels in the bible. Revelation 12, Ezekiel 10, Revelation 8, Luke 2:13-15, Genesis 19:1, Psalm 91:11, Matthew 24:31
Make roast goose. In Ireland and Great Britain, the traditional dinner is one with roast goose and carrots. If it’s not easy to find a goose in your area, make a roast chicken instead. We are going to be making our family’s favorite, Lemon and Rosemary Roast Chicken.
Make something with carrots or blackberries. Carrots and blackberries are in season in the British Isles during this time so they are traditional foods to be eaten on this day. According to an Irish legend, when Michael cast Lucifer out of Heaven, he fell on a blackberry bush and cursed and spat on the blackberries, making them sour after September 29 so all blackberries must be eaten up. In honor of this amazing legend, we are making blackberry hand pies for tonight’s dessert! Sharing the recipe below.
Make bannocks. In Scotland, it is traditional to eat bannocks on St. Michael’s Day. Bannocks are kind of like pancakes only they are made of oat or barley flour.
Make angel food cake!
Fight a dragon. In the book of Revelation, Michael and his angels fought the dragon (Satan), and the dragon was cast down to earth. Make a dragon pinata with your kids or make a devil’s food cake and allow your kids to “slay” the dragon cake with plastic knives.
Blackberry Hand Pies
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and cold
3/4 cup sour cream
3 cups of blackberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Egg wash (1 egg and 1 teaspoon water)
For the dough: Blend the flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add sour cream and pulse until the dough starts to form a ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and press into a rectangle. Divide the dough in half, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
To make the filling: Combine the blackberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until they start to break down slightly. Cook until the strawberries are tender and have released their juices, about 5 minutes.
Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl, then add to the strawberries. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to thicken and turns translucent. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
To bake the hand pies: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
When you are ready to prepare the hand pies, roll one of the chilled doughs out on a floured surface. As you are rolling, you can straighten out the edges with your hands to create a 10 x 15-inch rectangle. Using a pastry wheel, cut the dough into 12 equal squares by cutting 4 strips along the length and 3 strips along the short side. Put about 2 tablespoons filling in each center of half the squares.
To prepare the topping: Lightly brush the edges of the filled squares with egg wash. Cover with the remaining squares. Press the dough together then use a fork to gently adhere the hand pies around the edges. Cut a cross on each top. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Repeat the process with the remaining dough and filling. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. If baking both baking sheets at once, rotate top to bottom after 15 minutes.