Saturday, October 1, 2016

Our Family Michaelmas Celebration

     Around here, fall fell with a thud. When we left for home for a trip back east in late August, the sun was shining and the temps were in the eighties.  The very moment we got back from our sweltering vacation, the temerpatures dropped in Seattle and the leaves began to change. However, I was so excited about celebrating Michaelmas this year that I insisted that it was officially fall until September 29th. Half of celebrating a holiday is beng excited to celebrate it, so I took every opportunity to remind them it WASN'T Michaelmas.
     "Well, it sure looks like fall, but it's not Maichaelmas yet."
     "The devil has already spit in these blackberries. Michaelmas must be coming."
    "Put your shoes on. It's going to be Michaelmas soon so it's getting cold out."
     "Eat your chicken. Also, this is not Michaelmas."

     I was so excited about Michaelmas because it is a completely exciting and kid-friendly holiday. Why have all these awesome holidays fallen out of favor? It doesn't make any sense! Michaelmas is the Catholic celebration of the the coming of fall. Although it supposed to be a celebrations of all the archangels, from what I can tell it mostly centers around Michael, the head in God's army. Michael is a total badass and goes around fighting Satan and dragons, and human's enemies. During Michaelmas, we remember that hard times are ahead: cold, sickness, hunger, ets. It's easy to get cranky. Hence, a celebration of Michael to help us remember to be patient, hard working, and cooperative. 
     Because Warren's name and middle name both mean "defender", I tell Warren that St. Michael's day is his special day as well. Warren's patron saint is supposedly Saint Guarino. However, Guarino is A) not Warren's name, and B) a priest who regularly ran away and hid to avoid responsibility. Thanks, but I think we'll go with the angel who carries a giant sword and
fights draons instead.
     There are lots of stories about St. Michael, because, everyone loves stories but no one wants to hear stories about a saint that leaps out of windows and runs away. Hence, Michael gets a lot of stories and Guarino gets ignored. As one story goes, a dragon, ie Satan, landed in the world and tormented people. His clouds of smoke blocked out the sun, and the Earth became cold. The people of Earth became hungry sick and cold and locked themselves away in their homes. They didnt want to help each other, or share. The world fell into despair. Michael taught the people to work together to fight the dragon and save the planet.
     Funnily enough, this is the story of one of Amani's favorite episodes of My Little Pony. One difference between the stories is that instead of working together to fight the dragon, the ponies fight off their antagonists by sharing, laughing and learning to smooth out their differences. I frankly think that is a more meaningful ending, so when I told Amani the story, I combined the two.

Saint Michael comes down and tells people to overcome the dragon's power. The people think this means they have to learn to fight, so they spend time training and making weapons. However, eventaully the people get tired and frustrated with one another, and begin to use their fighting skills on each other. Saint Michael comes down again and says that the people didn't understand his meaning. To overcome the dragon they must learn to make music together (a task that takes a lot of organization, teamwork and sharing) and travel up the mountain so they can soothe the dragon. Through their singing, sharing and laughing, (the people help one another and laugh with each other as they try to climb the mountain to the dragon's lair) they show the dragon how wonderful love is. The dragon decided to be their friend, and the world was warmed.
     Some people tell this story while making Michael's Bannock, a bread made into the shape of a dragon. There is a traditional recipe for the bread with all kinds of fall grains, but I was pretty sure no one in my family would eat it. We made Amish white bread and it worked just as well. I wrote a separate post to show you how we shaped the bread if you want to try it. My kids named their dragons Tuffy, Dragonighta and Baby. Amani took dragon head to school for lunch, which I thought was pretty cool.
We didn't get a chance to do the Michaelmas craft I wanted to do because Warren was sick and Amani went to a friend's house. No big deal. We can always do it next year. Overall, I definitely think that the kids will remember it and will look forward to it next year.

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