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Goose Day (Michaelmas)
"Duck, Duck, Goose!"
Today is the feast of St. Michael, Michaelmas, traditionally celebrated by dining on a well-fattened goose! If you are more inclined to goose spotting rather than goose dining, this tartan is designed to appeal to the eye by utilizing the beautiful colors of Anser albifrons flavirostris, the white-fronted goose! These geese migrate each winter from their breeding ground in Greenland to the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond, where they can be seen along the shores by goose watchers enjoying special "goose walk"tours! In the British Isles, Michaelmas, September 29th, has been a traditional feast day, usually observed by serving a a well-fattened goose, fed on the stubble from the fields after the harvest! This custom was believed to protect against financial need for the coming year and may have its origins behind a story associated with Queen Elizabeth I! Having been told of the foundering of some vessels of the Spanish Armada on Michaelmas Day in 1588 and happening to be dining on goose at the time , the Queen resolved to eat it ever after on Michaelmas Day. Goose fairs, including the famous Nottingham Goose Fair, still mark this old custom. An alternative goose-less Scottish Michaelmas tradition is to make Struan Micheil (St. Michael's Bannock), traditionally containing all the grains of the harvest! Honk, honk! 🦆
September 29th is sometimes referred to as Goose Day, another name for the celebration of Michaelmas tied to harvest celebrations. The feast of St. Michael and All Angels was traditionally celebrated by eating a well-fattened goose which was deemed to 'spell prosperity for the coming year'. A Michaelmas goose was often known as a 'stubble goose' or 'green goose' as the birds would have been fed almost entirely on grass stubble and harvest gleanings - in contrast to the Christmas goose finished primarily on wheat.
Instead, today we celebrate the wild White-fronted goose (Anser albifrons flavirostris), known for its distinctive plumage.
From the designer's notes:
"Created for an exhibition, this tartan was inspired whilst on a ‘goose walk’ organised by RSPB Loch Lomond. The source of the inspiration came from observing the white-fronted geese (Anser albifrons flavirostris) who travel from their breeding ground in Greenland to the beautiful Loch shores each winter. The colours chosen are symbolic of those of the birds to which they relate and white was given more prominence in homage to their name. The tartan will be used to celebrate the beauty of the geese and to help raise their profile as an endangered species.
RSPB (Scotland) endorse the application for this design and it is envisaged that its creation will assist with the continuing efforts to conserve nature and the surrounding scenery that will protect the future survival of these striking birds."
For more on Michaelmas foods and customs, click the balancing goose photographed by Skip Russell.