Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Wanting Michaelmas

I've been sitting here for a while now trying to decide what to say about Michaelmas, when I remembered this passage from a tiny book I recently picked up at a book sale.

"It is certainly not easy to say much about (Michaelmas), as this festival has generally never been celebrated, as thus there is no tradition to pass along. We must try to create it, and above all to want it, and then in time it can become that which it should truly be."
--Friedel Lenz, Celebrating the Festivals with Children, 1973 (English translation 1986)

So with that in mind, I'll say that we've tried a few different things over the years to capture the essence of Michaelmas. This year Michaelmas looked something like this:

MMmmm... dragon bread. A standing tradition for several years now. I tell the Michaelmas bread-making story from All Year Round while we prepare the dough. This year we used a recipe from May All Be Fed called "Ocean's Bombs of Love Bread." It was the best dragon bread we've devoured yet.

These are dyepots of goldenrod and marigold. This year I decided I would tell the lovely tale "The Michaelmas Story of the Star Children" by Corinne Batzell, from the outstanding book An Overview of the Waldorf Kindergarten, and at the end, present the children with golden capes.

For my dying recipe I used a combination of some instructions given to me by the lovely and crafty A., and the beautiful book by Rita Buchanan, A Dyer's Garden. We dyed three silks in the goldenrod bath and one in the marigold. The marigold, which I had very little of-- maybe two dozen flower heads, turned out to be a fairly strong dye. The goldenrod? Not so much. We harvested plenty according to the instructions. I even tried overdying two of the silks in the leftover marigold bath, but they didn't absorb much more color. The girls were plenty pleased with our results, though. And they are anxious to try dying with other plants.

1. goldenrod dipped in marigold leftovers, 2. marigold, and 3. goldenrod.

To round out our day of goldenness, I surprised everyone with an extremely golden bed of rice under our thai curry seitan dish.

The bloopers reel for the day would have included Kitty Bill dumping an entire cup of flour into his face, Kitty Bill running off during the goldenrod harvesting, and me accidentally pinching Moonshine's helping fingers with the scissors during the goldenrod harvesting.

Our Michaelmas attempts are always far from perfect. They don't yet have that same reverence as Martinmas or Advent... but we do our best. We want Michaelmas, and for now, that will have to be enough.


  1. What beautiful memories you are creating for your children! Even the bloopers will be remembered with humor and joy in years to come.

  2. Anonymous10:17 PM

    'The bloopers reel for the day would have included'...

    I like real. I love it.


  3. I feel like I'm just starting to "get" Michaelmas. It meant a lot to me this year--probably because I have somehow been drafted to be the parent "festival expert" at our school--I gained a lot while thinking about what to say for my Michaelmas tea and now I find that I'm to do the Martinmas tea as well. I feel like my kids have also really lived into it this year. Good luck as you find your way with this festival--I have found it to be elusive too.


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