Close to the autumnal equinoxes, Michaelmas is one of the old ‘quarter days’. These were the four significant dates in the agricultural, legal and university calendars. It used to be said that harvest had to be completed by Michaelmas, almost like the marking of the end of the productive season and the beginning of the new cycle of farming. Consequently Harvest Festival is usually marked at the end of September. It was the time at which new servants were hired or land was exchanged and debts were paid. This is how it came to be for Michaelmas to be the time for electing magistrates and also the beginning of legal and university terms. Michaelmas Day is 29th September.
Folklore in the British Isles suggests that Michaelmas day is the last day that blackberries can be picked. It is said that when St. Michael expelled Lucifer, the devil, from heaven, he fell from the skies and landed in a prickly blackberry bush. Satan cursed the fruit, scorched them with his fiery breath, and stamped and spat on them, so that they would be unfit for eating. As it is considered ill-advised to eat them after 29 September, a Michaelmas pie is made from the last berries of the season.
We did celebrate Harvest at UCF on the nearest Sunday - I think that was just how it worked out. I haven't picked any berries since either [although there's one small box left in the freezer] But to my delight, I have noticed we have a small clump of Michaelmas Daisies bringing a splash of purple to the garden since our return from Sicily.[picture 4 below]
Other unexpected delights in the garden this week - I found some lemon balm [picture 1] growing behind the shed [I love lemon balm] Somebody please advice me - if I dig it up and replant it with my other herbs in the raised bed now, will it die? Should I just leave it, and transplant it in the spring, or what?
Picture 2 is the fuchsia planted last summer, which I thought had died. It has suddenly burst forth into glorious pink blossom. Very happy about that - I hated leaving my lovely big pink fuchsia bush back in Kirby [a gift from our late friends George and Ellen]
Pictures 3 and 6 are my geraniums from the little tub on the patio. Margaret said that if I picked off the dead blooms, more would grow. So I did - and they have! Picture 5 - being optimistic here - we were given some bulbs on our Wedding Anniversary in August. Hoping for a pretty display in the spring.
“The Michaelmas Daisies, among dede weeds,
Bloom for St Michael's valorous deeds.
And seems the last of flowers that stood,
Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.”
The Feast of St. Simon and Jude is 28 October. The act of giving a Michaelmas Daisy symbolises saying farewell, perhaps in the same way as Michaelmas Day is seen to say farewell to the productive year and welcome in the new cycle.
Bob and I have noticed that it is significantly warmer down here in Dorset, and Autumn seems to be arriving a little later. What's the weather like where you are?