I love the month of September, a month of new beginnings for so many of us – for my Orthodox Christian friends, it is the beginning of the liturgical year; for many of us in America it marks Labor Day and the unofficial end of summer and beginning of fall, and for many it is the beginning of a new school year.
Fall is my favorite season, and I love the smells of fall, smoke from a good bonfire, crunching leaves, the snapping of twigs when we walk through the woods or on the farm, the delicious foods associated with fall harvest. There is a beautiful poem in the book “All Year Round” on page 129 that could make a particularly lovely blessing for this time of year:
Thanks to our mother, the earth, which sustains us;
Thanks to the rivers and streams and their water;
Thanks to the corn and the grain fields that feed us;
Thanks to the herbs which protect us from illness;
Thanks to the bushes and trees and their fruiting;
Thanks to the moon and the stars in the darkness;
Thanks to the sun and his eye that looks earthward;
Thank the Great Spirit for all of his goodness.
Adapted from an Iroquois Indian address of thanksgiving
I am thinking a lot about harvest, apples, and acorns. Apples are big in my state toward the midpoint of this month, and I have many “apple” things planned for our kindergarten aged child – apple prints, cooking with apples, baking apple bread, making dried apples, apple picking. I also have ideas about leaves. In the book “Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions”, an idea is suggested for a “Maple Leaf and Nutting Party”, which we can do here more in October or toward the end of this month. Tree and leaf rubbings, leaf prints, collecting leaves and dipping them in glycerin are all fun seasonal things to do this month.
This is also the month that ends in the Feast Day of St. Michael and All Angels, known in the Waldorf tradition as Michaelmas ( and also called Michaelmas in the Anglican tradition as well; please see the website Full Homely Divinity for more). From an Anglican perspective about St. Michael, Full Homely Divinity says this:
He is called the prince of the heavenly host and his name means, “Who is like God?” It is Michael who leads the heavenly host in war against the devil and his minions. As such, he is the defender of the people of God against their enemies. Michael is portrayed as a warrior dressed in armor. He holds either a spear or a lance and also often holds the balance of justice because of his role in judging the devil at the end of time. Satan lies conquered under his feet. Some of the other archangels have their own feast days, as do the guardian angels, but Michael’s feast day, “Michaelmas” on September 29th, is the principal celebration of the angels in the West and it commemorates Michael together with all of the angels…..The East celebrates two feasts of all of the archangels (see below) and also the Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Colossae on September 6th. Michael is believed to be connected to a number of springs which had healing powers (stealing a bit of Raphael’s thunder as a healer, but apparently archangels are not a jealous lot.) One spring was particularly notable because of the circumstance of its appearance. When pagans attempted to destroy a shrine dedicated to Michael at Colossae by diverting a stream to flood it, the guardian of the shrine prayed to Michael. The archangel responded by appearing personally and splitting the rock to create a new bed for the stream and preserve the sanctuary. The waters of that stream were permanently sanctified and the event earned a permanent place in the liturgical cycle of the Orthodox Church. Michael’s connection to high places should also be mentioned. Mountains and other heights are particularly resonant with the notion of power and dominance in ancient religions and Michael, as the commander of the armies of heaven, is naturally seen as holding the high ground. Mont Saint Michel in Normandy, St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, and Glastonbury Tor are some of the high places associated with Michael, often because of apparitions that took place there.
These are my main anchor points for this month:
September 1 – Labor Day
September 8- The Nativity of St.Mary, the Theotokos
September 11- The Feast Day of St. Euphrosynos the Cook, celebrated in the Orthodox tradition and in my heart. Here is a sweet book about this Saint.
September 21 – St. Matthew
September 29 – Michaelmas
Ideas for Celebrating:
For Labor Day, we have plans to go boating with friends and mark the unofficial end of summer. I think a fun way to celebrate Labor Day with small children might be to see something in your town that workers helped build – such as a train station, or a particularly tall building or a bridge. My great-uncle worked on building a dam in Arizona and I had other relatives who worked on Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands, NY, so if I lived either of those places I would bring my children there to see those things. Parades are also a fun way to mark this American holiday. New York City still has a parade, but I don’t see too many down here in the South, which is a shame.
Catholic Icing has some ideas for celebrating the Nativity of St. Mary, and there are religious lessons from The Orthodox Church in America website as well.
For the Feast Day of St. Matthew, the blog Shower of Roses has some ideas to share about celebrating this Feast Day with children. We will be at the beach on vacation the week of this Feast Day, so I am not sure how much we will do yet.
For Michaelmas, I have many back posts on this blog with ideas. Michaelmas is a very big festival within the Waldorf tradition, and the kindergarten teachers of Waldorf Education often have lovely crafts and ideas to share. This is a wonderful day for blackberry pie or cobbler!
If you have a blog and have posted your monthly anchor points, I would love to link to it, so please leave a link in the comment box below. I would love to hear your plans for September!