We Wish You a Merry Michaelmas.
If you're not up on your knowledge of Saint's Days, September 29th is St. Michael's Day or Michaelmas. (Michael: Hebrew "Who is like God?").
Because it falls near the equinox, it is associated with the beginning of Autumn and the shortening of days. St. ME, one of the principal angelic warriors, was seen as a protector against the dark of night.
St. ME is one of the principal angels; his name was the war-cry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against the enemy and his followers. A few times my name is recorded in Scripture:
Daniel 10:13 "and, behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me . . . and none is my helper in all these things, but Michael your prince";
Daniel 12, "the Angel speaking of the end of the world and the Antichrist says: "At that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the children of thy people."
Apocalypse 12:7, "And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon."
Christian tradition gives St. Michael five offices:
*To fight against Satan.
*To rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy, especially at the hour of death.
*To be the champion of God's people, the Jews in the Old Law, the Christians in the New Testament; therefore he was the patron of the Church, and of the orders of knights during the Middle Ages.
*To call away from earth and bring men's souls to judgment.
*To crack really bad jokes and puns. (I made this last one up just to see if you're paying attention.)
BUT much more important than any of this rot is that it is MY SECOND BIRTHDAY! Because my birthday falls on that other guys' Mas (Dec.25th...you figure it out), when I was but a wee lad, my parents decided to celebrate my birthday on this date so that I could get a birthday party and two sets of presents every year. For some reason, nobody would ever come out to my place and admonish me with birthday presents in late December. (If you ask me, where are my 3 wise men? Where is my Gold and Myrrh and Frankincense? Of course, I'm grateful that I made it to my 34rd birthday.)
Alas as I got older, the parties faded away and I was again relegated to but the one birthday and thus a bunch of two-in-one presents at X-mas. Even my beer-swilling friends stopped buying me a beer on this date (cheap bastards!) BUT to make matters even worse, my family occasionally forgot my actual birthday on December 25th! No cake or "Happy Birthday to you" for me! One year, after all the Christmas festivities had ended and our family gathering was over and we were all going our separate ways, I meekly asked, "Isn't anyone going to wish me Happy Birthday?" To their credit, they haven't forgotten since. I still don't get a party or a cake or extra presents, but they do wish me "Bonne Anniversaire." (Thanks to my little sister who always remembers!)
How many of you have gone out with your friends on your birthday and had one too many? I had never done this in Canada because the bars are closed on X-mas day! My first beer in a bar took place in 1999 in Tokyo with some of my Nova co-workers. Sure they were out trying to capture some Christmas spirit, but the odd toast was for me! Since then, I have had to go out to bars on my own on Christmas Day when in Japan and ask the patrons to sing me "Happy Birthday" and they always comply. (God Bless the little heathens.)
So this year, I implore you to send me a birthday email on December 25th (aoxoltl atmark hotmail.com) and I will raise a glass to my phone and toast you ... whereever we may be.