Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Michaelmas Customs

Shawn Tribe on the Liturgical Arts Journal has an interesting article about the folklore and social customs traditionally associated with Michaelmas in the British Isles and in western Europe. His article, with a link to a more detailed and fascinating illustrated account of such customs, can be read at Customs of Michaelmas

I doubt if many such survive today in this country although at very least the Michaelmas daisies were flowering in the grounds of the church when I went to a sung Mass in the usual antiquior for the feast.

The tradition of eating the Michaelmas goose may not survive - that great Anglo Catholic layman Viscount Halifax (1839-1934) made a point of eating his Michaelmas goose at his estate at Garrowby in the East Riding into the twentieth century but I do not know if his descendants keep up the tradition.

For myself cooking a goose would be a little difficult in my present accommodation - they do not fit very well into a microwave - and for all that geese fly over every evening at dusk from whatever that have been doing all day, are not easy to catch .,..or buy. So I marked the feast with smoked salmon and white Burgundy, which did make it something of a celebration.

Maybe for another year we should all try to revive something of these traditions, and also seek to appreciate how they punctuated the pattern of rural and urban life in the past for our ancestors.

No comments: