Today is the Fall Equinox, the day in Autumn when day and night are perfectly even.
Now the Harvest is in,
Grain is in the bin.
Through hard work and God's aid
The year's rent has been paid.
With Pennies to spare
We're off to the Michaelmas Fair!
In Europe, many places celebrated this day as the harvest coming in, and under Catholicism, it was also linked to the Archangel Michael. As one of the quarter days of the year in the middle ages, workers were payed, rent due, and accounts settled. Fairs would also be held, and still are in some parts of the UK.
'Tis just a month come Friday next, Bill Champerdown and me Us traipsed across old Darty Moor, the Goosey Fair to see Us made ourselves quite fitty, us greased and oiled our hair Then off us goes in our Sunday clothes behind old Bill's grey mare Us smelled the sage and onion 'alf a mile from Whitchurch Down And didn't us 'ave a blow out when us come into the town And there us met Ned Hannoford, Jan Steer and Nicky Square And it seemed to we, all Devon must be to Tavistock Goosey Fair And its oh, and where be a-going And what be a-doing of there Heave down your prong and stamp along To Tavistock Goosey Fair Us went to see the 'orses and the 'effers and the yews Us went on all them roundabouts and into all the shows And then it started raining and blowing in our face So off us goes down to the Rose to 'ave a dish of tay And then us had a sing song and the folks kept dropping in And what with one an' t'other, well, us had a drop of gin And what with one an' t'other, us didn't seem to care Whether us was to Bellever Tor or Tavistock Goosey Fair And its oh, and where be a-going And what be a-doing of there Heave down your prong and stamp along To Tavistock Goosey Fair 'Twere raining streams and dark as pitch when us trotted 'ome that night An' when us got past Merrivale Bridge, our mare, 'er took a fright Says I to Bill, "Be careful, you'll 'ave us in them drains" Says 'e to me, "Cor bugger, why 'aven't you got the reins?" Just then the mare ran slap against a whacking gert big stone 'Er kicked the trap to flibbits and 'er trotted off alone And when it come to reckoning, 'tweren't no use standing there Us 'ad to traipse 'ome thirteen mile from Tavistock Goosey Fair And its oh, and where be a-going And what be a-doing of there Heave down your prong and stamp along To Tavistock Goosey Fair
Why the "Goosey Fair"? Because Michaelmas has traditionally been tied, in one form or another, to geese, just getting fat, and so often a convenient bonus for the rent and payment settlements going on. Apples and blackberries also feature prominently, given their peak-season status.
Hmm...seems like next year, a goose stuffed with apples, sage, and onions is in order, with squash as a side and a blackberry crumble for dessert. I'd better start planning!