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Michaelmas is coming ... the goose is getting.....

by 5m Editor
29 August 2006, at 2:30pm

UK - Last Christmas goose was a sell-out across most of the country as the popularity of the alternative festive choice grew to its highest level in the past 40 years. But Christmas is not the only occasion associated with the goose.

The link with Michaelmas is probably just as old. Michaelmas — September 29 — is one of the most custom-rich days of the year, and this year it comes in the middle of British Food Fortnight. The feast of St Michael and All Angels comes just after the autumnal equinox when nights start getting longer than days and St Michael became popular in the Middle Ages as the protector against the forces of dark.

His feast was celebrated with a traditional ‘green’ goose fed on the stubble after harvest ..... and it’s custom that’s gaining favour today.

Judy Goodman, chairman of British Goose Producers, part of the British Poultry Council, is one of those farmers catering for the Michaelmas market and will this year be producing around 200 geese on her farm at Great Witley, near Worcester, for farmgate customers and local retail outlets.

Goose central to Michaelmas celebrations

Michaelmas Day — the Feast of St Michael and All Angels — was once one of the most important days of the year. Falling on September 29 — this year a Friday — it differs from most other saints’ days in honouring a spirit and not a human being.

St Michael is mentioned in the Bible on several occasions where he and his band of angels fight the dragon, symbolising the eternal struggle of good versus evil. Highly popular in the Middle Ages, he was depicted as a winged young man clad in white garments or in armour, carrying a lance or shield.

During the Middle Ages Michaelmas became a great religious feast and many popular traditions grew up around the day. Coinciding with the end of harvest, the feast was celebrated with a traditional well-fattened goose fed on the stubble fields after harvest.

Michaelmas also marks the beginning of a new farming year when rents are due, although the quarter day falls later in Suffolk and Norfolk — 4th and 11th respectively. Many landlords used to hold goose feasts for their tenants, and eating a goose then was supposed to protect against financial hardship for the coming 12 months.

The Michaelmas goose is also known as the ‘green' goose because it is reared on grass, as opposed to the Christmas goose which is a larger, older bird brought into the farmstead later in the autumn to be finished on corn. The Michaelmas goose is associated with leaner and particularly tender eating quality with a flavour of its own.

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5m Editor