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Michaelmas

September 29, the feast of St. Michael and All Angels or Michaelmas fell about the time of the autumnal equinox. The equinox marked the period when the nights would be getting longer and the earth would begin to die. St. Michael came to be seen as the protector against the forces of the dark and so became very popular in the Middle Ages. Many monasteries and churches were dedicated to him, usually on high places near the sea.

His feast was celebrated with a traditional well-fattened goose which had fed well on the stubble of the fields after the harvest. In many places, a there was also a tradition of special large loaves of bread made only for that day.

By Michaelmas the harvest had to be completed and the new cycle of farming would begin. It was a time for beginning new leases, rendering accounts and paying the annual dues.

On the manors at Michaelmas, a reeve was elected from among the peasants to keep watch over the work and to assure that production was up to expectation. If rents or donations of goods fell short, the reeve had to make it up on his own. It was not a popular office.