It’s Michaelmas Day so I have been rummaging around the web to find some ideas for words to accompany a couple of photos of Michaelmas daisies.
Firstly, I checked up on the quarter days and realised that although I remember Midsummer, Michaelmas and Christmas, the one I always forget is Lady Day, which falls on March 25th.
Those are the English quarter days, when accounts and rents fall due. The traditional Scottish term days, which fall closer to the old Celtic quarter days, are Candlemas, Whitsunday, Lammas and Martinmas. Of those, for some reason, it’s Lammas that is least familiar to me. Perhaps I’ll remember to post a picture of an alpaca on August 1st next year.
The dates are all made more complicated, of course, by those eleven days that went missing when we changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar.
My mother has always said her father was born on old Christmas Day (January 7th – or possibly 6th), and apparently the English tax year, which starts on April 6th, used to coincide with the calendar year, back when Lady Day was the first day of the year. Now we’d have to say the tax year starts on old Lady Day, which makes it sound as if it’s associated with the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street.
A few years ago I wrote a post that said you shouldn’t eat blackberries after Michaelmas, but today’s reading tells me that they are actually OK until after old Michaelmas (October 10th).
Although I went to church as a child, it was a Baptist church and we didn’t really learn much about the saints. I do remember the story of St Martin sharing his cloak with a beggar, and I suppose we must have learned about St Francis of Assisi.
The other saints got hardly a mention in my childhood, except as the names of churches, hospitals and stations. Except, of course, St Michael, who was known to be the patron saint of ladies knickers. Not having bought my underwear in Marks and Spencers for many years, I hadn’t realised until I was researching for this post that they gave up using the brand name in 2000. Perhaps it’s only right to restore his dignity to the Archangel.
I chose the blog post title as I was thinking that Michaelmas was three quarters of the way through the year, but when the year started on Lady Day, I guess we’d only have been half way through.
As I said, it all gets very complicated, and knowing how confused I am when we alter the clocks, I suppose I should be glad I wasn’t around when we changed the calendars. According to Wikipedia, 1751 only had 282 days and I suspect if I’d been around then, I’d have been rioting to demand they give me back my 83 days, not just eleven.