When I scrolled through the liturgical calendar to choose September’s For This Feast celebration, I immediately landed on the Feast of the Archangels (aka Michaelmas), which is next week on the 29th. Back in college, I remember serendipitously attending daily Mass on this feast day multiple years in a row. I don’t know much about angels, so the homilies about Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael always fascinated me. While there are tons of traditions (most of them food-related) associated with Michaelmas, many of the ideas I’ve come across over the years feel a little cheesy to me…things like serving angel hair pasta, angel food cake, etc. While those are certainly some cute ways to introduce young kids to this feast day, I wanted to offer some more refined inspiration for the grown-ups :) See below for the tablescape I came up with, and, more importantly, the meaning behind the details!
For this feast…
Carrots: Like I mentioned, there are tons of food-related traditions for this day, ranging from gnocchi in Italy (YUM), to bannock in Scotland, to roast goose in England. One food that appears in a few different cultures–that is also, conveniently, super easy to prepare and inexpensive (contrary to goose!)–is carrots. I roasted mine using the recipe from this cookbook.
Blackberries: Folklore says that when St. Michael threw the devil out of heaven, he fell on a blackberry bush and cursed it. As such, in Great Britain, Michaelmas is traditionally the last day to pick summer blackberries before they go sour. I used blackberries in this easy galette and cocktails (mine are faux because I shot this at 8:30 A.M., but this is the recipe I plan to use on Michaelmas next week…at a more cocktail-appropriate time!).
Aster: Also known as “Michaelmas daisies,” aster makes an easy and beautiful addition to any Michaelmas celebration. They are in peak season right now and I found them right away at a local garden center. Pick some up for your table or your front porch! I also incorporated them into the tablecloth, which is a few yards of this fabric. A few other pretty table pieces I found featuring aster include this neutral fabric, this traditional fabric, this embroidered tablecloth, and even these china plates and tea cups!
Slate and cast iron: No feathers or sparkly halos here…the archangels we celebrate on this feast are great warriors, messengers, and protectors. I picked strong, sturdy materials like cast iron and slate to represent this and to nod to St. Michael’s armor.
Gold and silver: Gold and silver are colors associated with St. Michael and St. Gabriel respectively. I am always on team mixed metals, so it felt like the perfect opportunity to pair our silver-rimmed china with gold flatware. Use one, the other, or both–it all works!
St. Michael prayer: Saint John Paul II said, “Although today this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it, and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.” I definitely wanted to include this popular and powerful prayer in some way. I love these static clings by Studio Senn, perfect for adding to a mirror or other surface you see daily.
As a reminder, my hope in creating and sharing these tablescapes is not to make you feel as though you need to recreate them in order to celebrate well. Instead, pull just one or two of your favorite ideas–whatever resonates most with you or is the easiest to execute using items you have on hand. I’d love to hear your plans or favorite traditions!