Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Michaelmas and blackberries.

I love it when MWNN teaches me something I didn't know about British Folklore. 

I am very fond of blackberries and usually pick them in September but rarely in October. Why is this? Is it because there is little chance of finding any in October? Or it it because there is a piece of folklore that says  'don't pick blackberries after Old Michealmas Day'?

I'd never heard this before and have often wondered what 'Michaelmas' is.

St Michael throws Satan from Heaven
From Wikipedia

Old Michaelmas Day falls on October 11 (October 10 according to some sources). According to an old legend, blackberries should not be picked after this date. This is because, so folklore goes, Satan was banished from Heaven on this day, fell into a blackberry bush and cursed the brambles as he fell into them. In Yorkshire, it is said that the devil had spat on them. According to Morrell (1977), this old legend is well known in all parts of the United Kingdom, even as far north as the Orkney Islands. In Cornwall, a similar legend prevails, however, the saying goes that the devil urinated on them.

Seems a bit far-fetched to me. It's more likely that there are no blackberries to be had after October 11th because the birds and humans have harvested them all by then. But it's a nice myth.