The second Quarter Day was Midsummer Day (June 24th). It celebrated the summer solstice midway between planting and harvest. Anglicans celebrated this day as the birthday of John the Baptist who, by his leaping in Elizabeth’s womb, foretold the birth of Jesus six months later. Midsummer eve was celebrated with “bonnefyres” (bonfires), feasting, and merrymaking. Michaelmas (September 29th) is the feast of the Archangel Michael, corresponding to the autumnal equinox marking shorter days and winter’s onset. It celebrated the harvest’s conclusion and was a time for stocking food to prepare for winter. Since the farm workers were freed from their toil and had more free time to vote, elections were often scheduled at this time. Elections were shifted to November in America because our growing season was longer. Although Yule is thought synonymous with Christmas, it actually occurs on the winter solstice (December 21st). The word Yule is linked to the word “wheel” marking the turning point of the year when the shortened days began to lengthen. Farm workers were paid for their year’s labor around this time, giving them reason to celebrate followed by a three month rest before the next growing season.
~ Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church