British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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376                                   MICHAELMAS DAY.                     [SEPT. 29.
the future harvest. The day was always called, in the west in particular, "Garlic Sunday," perhaps a corruption of Garland Sunday.—N. & Q. 1st. S. vol. ix. p. 34.
Sept. 29.]              MICHAELMAS DAY.
At this season village maidens, in the west of England, go up and down the hedges gathering crab-apples, which they carry home, putting them into a loft, and forming with them the initials of their supposed suitors' names. The initials which are found, on examination, to be most perfect on Old Michaelmas Day are considered to represent the strongest attachments and the best for choice of husbands.—Brand, Pop. Antiq. 1849, vol. i. p. 356.
Michaelmas Goose.—It was long a prevalent notion that the practice of eating goose on Michaelmas Day arose from the circumstance that Queen Elizabeth received the news of the defeat of the Spanish Armada whilst partaking of a goose on that anniversary. This, however, is disproved by the fact that, so far back as the tenth year of Edward IV. (1470), one John de la Hay was bound, amongst other services, to render to William Barnaby, lord of Lastres, in Herefordshire, for a parcel of the demesne lands, " xxd and one goose fit for his lord's dinner on the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel."—Sports, Pastimes, and Customs of London, 1847, p. 37.
In the poems of George Gascoigne, 1575, occur too the following lines :—
" And when the tenantes come to pale their quarter's rent, They bring some fowle at Midsummer, a dish of fish in Lent; At Christmasse a capon, at Michaelmasse a goose, And somewhat else at New-yere's tide, for feare their lease flie loose."
Blount, in his Tenures, says that probably no other reason can be given for this custom but that Michaelmas day was a great festival, and geese at that time were most plentiful. —See Brand's Pop. Antiq., 1849, vol. i. pp. 367-371.
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