A very soggy day, feeling truly autumnal - a good day to tidy my desk and studio which were both in a mess at the end of a very busy field season. Hopefully, having neat and tidy surroundings will encourage me to progress the very many reports that are waiting to be written...

I had a walk round the garden during one of the brief dry spells and gathered a range of daisy flower-heads - several cultivars of Michaelmas daisy, a late ox-eye daisy, a coneflower, a tickseed and one whose name escapes me. They provide much-needed colour at the end of the season, and are all easy-going plants that need little attention.

They also seem appropriate to celebrate Michaelmas, which takes place on September 29th. The roots of Michaelmas can be traced all the way back to the third century when it was converted from a pagan festival to a Christian feast day.

There are many traditions which surround Michaelmas and most of them revolve around the traditional holiday goose. This is because a goose was traditionally what was paid to landowners for rent on this day. In many of these traditions, those who consumed a goose on this day would be free of all money problems throughout the year, while those who didn’t were said to have money problems the rest of the year.

Another practice that is common on this holiday is the eating of desserts that contain blackberries. This tradition can be traced back to the legend of Lucifer being thrown from heaven. In this story, when Lucifer was tossed out of heaven, he landed in a blackberry bush. As such, every year Lucifer spits on the blackberry bush, and they turn bad if they aren’t collected by this day.

In Italy, it is customary to eat ginger on this day with many people making ginger ale, ginger snap cookies and ginger caramels. In most countries, it is also customary to collect Michaelmas daisies that are often used as decoration around the house or used in people’s attire.

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