Anglicans Online banner More about the gryphon
Independent On the web since 1994 More than 250,000 readers More than 30,000 links Updated every Sunday
Will you help support
Anglicans Online?

The Paypal logotype

Noted This Week
Sites new to AO

News Centre
News archive

News flash: a summary of the top headlines
Start here
Anglicans believe...
The Prayer Book
The Bible

Read letters to AO
Write to us

Resources A to Z

World Anglicanism
Anglican Communion
In full communion
Not in the Communion

Dioceses and Parishes
Hong Kong
New Zealand
South Africa

Vacancies Centre
List a vacancy
Check openings worldwide

Add a site or link to AO
Add a site to AO
Link to AO

About Anglicans Online
Back issues
Awards and publicity
About our logo

Our search engine

Michaelmas daisy, Aster amellusHallo again to all.

Last weekend, we visited a working farm not far from where we live. This farm supplies much of the bounty of our table each week: fresh tomatoes, leeks, squash, pea-shoots, potatoes, yellow corn, haricots, cucumbers, onions, aubergines, honey, eggs, all in their seasonal order. The good people who work there with God to make our food have become our friends, and they invited us with a group of others who frequent their market-stand to share an evening meal together. It was a lovely chance to mark what we thought would be the last of summer's heat, to visit the farm as it wrinkled toward autumn, and to be thankful in the very place from which so much of our daily reason for thankfulness comes.

It was the cool of the day when we arrived, time to water the chickens and feed a young bull calf who had grown twofold since the last we'd seen him. After the animals had eaten, we would too. We walked around the lush countryside hillocks slowly, stopping behind the group to spend some extra time by the bees and the sunflower stalks where we feel most at home on a farm of any kind.

We next lingered by the loosely-defined goose pen, a thin fence at a wide distance from a shallow pond. It gives the fowl a free range in which to waddle, flap, swim, squabble, and honk. It's a safe place from which to look with what seems like amused contempt at occasional human visitors. The chickens and geese on this farm do not have names—the cows and goats do—but we nevertheless chanced to ask the geese out loud what they thought about the approach of Michaelmas.

One of the larger of the ganders cocked his head to one side, flapped a disinterested wing at our question, and turned away. We asked again: how was everyfowl doing with Michaelmas just on the horizon?

Not from our farmNone of them seemed to care enough to honk back in response to the curiously insistent human just on the other side of the fence. For these geese, as for most Christians and indeed most Anglicans, Michaelmas will pass without a notice this week.* It was not always so. Michaelmas Goose was once among the greatest monuments of the Anglophone Christian culinary world, inspiring countless recipes, songs, habits, associations and even some proverbs. They range from the cheerful

If the goose breast at Michaelmas be dour and dull
We'll have a sour winter, from the start to the full

to the grim

September, when by custom right divine
Geese are ordain'd to bleed at Michael's shrine.

Michaelmas was (and in some situations still is) an occasion for rejoicing, paying of rents and tithes, the beginning of academic terms, feasting, church attendance, and dancing. If today's geese are quite ignorant about Michaelmas, we're sure most of them are thankful on that count. (At this farm, in any case, they aren't slaughtered; their chief pecuniary worth is in the sale of their beautiful eggs to artists who blow and decorate them.)

Anglicans, being possessed of church kalendars and a good command of spoken language, have no good excuse to miss one of the highlights of our church's year. We'll keep it merrilly this Wednesday, and we hope you will, too. It is one of the brightest spots of this liturgical season, with its hymns about might, succour, protection, healing, wings, cherubim, seraphim, choirs, thrones, dominions, princedoms, powers, echoing in our ears and hearts long after we sing them each year. With Advent not far away, and the geese safe by their pond, it's incumbent on us to drink deeply this landmark of the ways in which God has 'ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals'.

See you next week, with Michael the blessed peacemaker as our succour, Gabriel the mighty as our guard; Raphael the restorer as our healer; and Uriel the bright messenger as our companion.

Our signature
All of us at Anglicans Online

Last updated: 26 September 2010

* To be fair, there is a surprising hint in the Guardian to the effect that Michaelmas goose may indeed be on the minds of some once again.

A thin blue line
This web site is independent. It is not official in any way. Our editorial staff is private and unaffiliated. Please contact about information on this page. ©2010 Society of Archbishop Justus
. Please address all spam to
Yes, this is Zimbabwe