Celebrating the Feast of the Archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael
Angelic Council – an Orthodox icon from the Wikipedia entry on Archangels
The Feast of the Archangels – Michael, Gabriel and Raphael – brings a day for fun and celebration at our house. My father’s name is Michael, so even as a child, this was a day to note. We didn’t particularly celebrate it, but I knew it was his feast day. Each of these archangels had their special day, but the feasts have since been combined into one. So today many men in my family celebrate feast days, including my father, brother, cousin, nephew, husband and sons. We don’t have a Gabriel, but Michael and Raphael (Rafael) are common.
When my children started Waldorf school (known as Steiner schools outside the United States), we were introduced to the celebration of Michaelmas. In Northern Hemisphere Waldorf schools, Michaelmas is the first festival of the year. It is seen as a time to remember that, as days grow shorter and darkness seems to grow stronger, we depend on the forces of light and strength to bring us safely through our lives. Many stories of Michael include mention of dragons – drawing on the story from the Book of Revelations describing a battle in the heavens between the dragon and Michael (Rev. 12:7-9). So confrontations between Michael and dragons are often portrayed theatrically by children as part of the celebration. The stories I’ve enjoyed the most have the dragons being “tamed,” in the sense that their great stores of energy are turned to building up the community. That’s a lesson that speaks even to adults – who among us doesn’t sometimes need to channel great energies that surge from deep within us and that can be destructive or constructive?
At the elementary schools our children attended, following the play, the community joined together around a great loaf of bread baked in the shape of a dragon by the third graders. A blessing was sung, the bread was cut and the community shared in eating it. (Always reminded me of certain liturgical activities with which many of us are very familiar!) Lunch, followed by a great pot luck of desserts came next. Then making apple juice in the orchard and other fun activities completed the day.
After the Michaelmas celebration (generally celebrated on a Saturday so entire families could come), we were always tired when we got home. When it came time for dinner, nobody was up to cooking a big meal. So we developed a fun little custom of making and eating dragon cakes.
So here’s the Pozos family method of celebrating Michaelmas. We make dragon cakes (pancakes shaped in the form of dragons). Add dragon eggs (fried potatoes cut in circles), dragon nests (grated apples with cinnamon for spicing) and dragon food (scrambled eggs with spicy sausage – we like Mexican chorizo). Light a candle. Use special dishes if you want. Share some sparkling cider. And, most importantly, work together to make the meal and then sit around afterward and enjoy each other’s company.
I’m looking forward to the celebration tonight! Hope you have fun too.