When Should You Not Eat Blackberries? Unraveling the Folklore and Superstitions

Blackberries, with their deep purple hues and sweet-tart flavors, are a beloved summer treat. However, folklore and superstitions have woven a web of beliefs around these delectable berries, particularly regarding the time of year when they should not be consumed.

The Folklore of Michaelmas and the Devil’s Curse

One of the most prevalent superstitions surrounding blackberries is the belief that they should not be eaten after September 29th, the feast day of Saint Michael, also known as Michaelmas. This superstition has its roots in Christian tradition, specifically the story of the Archangel Michael’s battle with the devil.

According to legend, Michael, the leader of God’s army, engaged in a fierce battle with Lucifer, the fallen angel. During the struggle, Michael cast Lucifer into a thorny blackberry bush. As Lucifer fell, he cursed the berries, rendering them inedible and poisonous after Michaelmas.

Variations and Regional Beliefs

While the general superstition revolves around Michaelmas, the specific date and the reasons behind the prohibition vary across regions and cultures.

  • England: In England, the belief is that the devil spat on the blackberries, making them unfit for consumption after September 29th.

  • Ireland: Irish folklore holds that the devil stomped on the blackberry bushes, tainting the berries with his evil.

  • Scotland: Scottish superstition suggests that the devil threw his cloak over the bushes, causing the berries to rot and decay.

Medicinal and Protective Properties

Despite the superstitions surrounding their consumption after Michaelmas, blackberries have long been valued for their medicinal and protective properties.

  • Medicinal Uses: Blackberries were believed to possess healing powers, particularly for ulcers and bleeding wounds. They were also thought to be effective against snake venom.

  • Protective Symbolism: Blackberries were considered protective against evil spirits and vampires. Planting blackberry bushes near homes was believed to prevent vampires from entering, as they would become preoccupied with counting the berries and forget about their nefarious intentions.

Modern Interpretations and Scientific Evidence

While the superstitions and folklore surrounding blackberries add a touch of intrigue to their history, it’s important to note that there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that blackberries become inedible or poisonous after Michaelmas.

The decline in blackberry quality after September 29th can be attributed to natural factors such as:

  • Decreased Sunlight: As autumn approaches, the days become shorter and the nights cooler, reducing the amount of sunlight available for the berries to ripen.

  • Colder Temperatures: The colder temperatures can slow down the ripening process and make the berries less sweet.

  • Increased Rainfall: Autumn often brings increased rainfall, which can lead to mold and rot on the berries.

The superstition against eating blackberries after September 29th is a fascinating blend of folklore, religious beliefs, and cultural traditions. While there is no scientific basis for the prohibition, it remains an intriguing part of blackberry lore.

Whether you choose to indulge in blackberries after Michaelmas is a matter of personal preference. However, if you do decide to partake, rest assured that you are not defying any scientific laws or inviting bad luck.

Myths And Other Superstitions

when should you not eat blackberries

Blackberry (Rubus villosus): Several species in the genus Rubus of the Rosaceae family produce the edible blackberry.

Folk Names: Fairy Fruit, Witches Vine, Devils Bane, Cloudberry, Dewberry, Goutberry, High Blackberry, Thimbleberry, Bly, Bramble, Bramble-Kite, Bumble-Kite, and Cloudberry

when should you not eat blackberries

Most of us enjoy nothing more in the summer than a warm, freshly baked blackberry pie. It’s almost a ritual for autumn to arrive with its vibrant hues and give way to the brisk, cool evenings that so many of us adore. Another custom that many people look forward to participating in is picking blackberries. I used to pick and eat them straight off the bush, just like a lot of kids do. (I still do sometimes).

There are lots of fascinating myths about blackberries that you may not be aware of. The notion that blackberries herald cold weather when they bloom in May This is the most widespread cold snap in American history, known as Blackberry Winter. The legendary, Old Farmers Almanac even mentions Blackberry Winter. Some people believe that after Michaelmas Day, the devil ruins the blackberries. There is an additional proverb that states that when the blackberries are ripe, babies, horses, and cats never feel well.

when should you not eat blackberries

When Halloween was more widely observed in the second half of the 1800s, people thought that witches would pose as attractive women and give poisoned blackberries to gullible kids. People avoided eating blackberries at this time of year because of this belief. Indeed, you would have been labeled a witch if you had been seen making a fresh blackberry pie around Halloween.

when should you not eat blackberries

Of course, blackberries are not all bad. The plant was said to have numerous medicinal applications, and the historian Pliny praised them for their ability to treat bleeding wounds and ulcers. The ancient Britons said that a salad prepared from the leaves would reattach any lost teeth, and they were thought to be effective against the venom of serpents!

Some women used to carefully grind blackberries into a thick mixture and apply it as a cosmetic to their eyes; this practice occasionally resulted in infections and irritation of the eyes. The blackberry curse was frequently cited as the cause of the indisposition.

when should you not eat blackberries

According to Celtic folklore, blackberries are fairy fruit, and eating them could bring bad luck. Blackberries were also considered protective against earthbound spirits and vampires. It is said that if a vampire planted them close to a house, he would become fixated on counting the berries and overlook the people inside.

when should you not eat blackberries

There is a great deal of folklore about blackberries in England, and all of it points to a common wisdom. Blackberry was the source of all evils, including disease and misfortune. It was employed to free humans and animals from the disease and bad luck caused by witchcraft.

Blackthorn bushes are said to have trapped the Devil, so people will avoid them at all costs. Various accounts of the story account for the various actions he is said to have taken against the blackberry bush, such as:

Blackberry bushes were thought to be the Devil’s spit, so you should definitely not eat them in England.

It was thought in Ireland that the Devil kicked the bush with his hooves.

It was thought in Scotland that he covered them with his cloak, allowing them to deteriorate.

In certain regions of Ireland, where the Devil is rumored to have stepped on a bush, there are also folktales warning against eating berries after Michaelmas Day due to the goblin Phooka’s schemes to attack anyone eating his blackberries.

when should you not eat blackberries

A far more dire warning is given by some versions of the superstitions: if you eat blackberries after Michaelmas day, you will die before the year is out!

Blackberry juice was applied to the victim’s forehead during several exorcisms. I hoped it would assist in driving out any bad spirits from my body.

It’s also noteworthy that blackberry bushes were typically planted around a lot of senescent sanctuaries.

when should you not eat blackberries

A witch’s whisk is a bundle of blackberry twigs that is lit to create a purifying smoke and bound on one end. The bound end forms a handle. The unbound end shoots out and resembles a whisk.

Regarding witches whisks, renowned English witch Cecil Williamson, who formerly owned the Boscastle Witchcraft Museum, wrote the following:

when should you not eat blackberries

Blackberries were used in many forms of worship and were revered by some of the ancient Pagan deities of Europe. Even now, some Wiccans celebrate the harvest by baking blackberry pies on August 2, Lughnasadh. On the day of her marriage, a bride would have (and occasionally still does) a blackberry wreath woven into her hair. It was considered to be a symbol of purity.

when should you not eat blackberries

A naturally formed arching bramble bush is a great tool for magical healing. On a bright day, make your way as close to east as you can by crawling through the arch three times, backward and then forward. Boils, rheumatism, whooping cough, and even blackheads and bruises will go away as a result of this.

Additionally, scalds can be healed by dipping nine blackberry leaves in spring water, placing them gently over the wound, and chanting the following three times (a total of 27 times) to each leaf:

This is an ancient invocation to Brigit, the Celtic goddess of smithcraft, poetry, and healing.

Blackberries are the subject of numerous historical myths and superstitions, the most common of which is that you shouldn’t eat them after a specific day of the year. September 29, also known as “Michaelmas day,” is the date that is typically mentioned, though the exact date varies somewhat. The British calendar was altered after 1752, and Michaelmas was shifted to October 10 (or 11, depending on who you ask). This is now known as “Old” Michaelmas Day.

So, you may see all these dates being cited. However, why is it forbidden to eat blackberries after Michaelmas Day? It is said that after September 30, blackberries may become toxic, inedible, or even worse. If you eat them on this late date of the season, bad luck and evil may come your way.

when should you not eat blackberries

All of this being said, nothing (not even a curse) will stop me from enjoying my blackberry tea, pies, and shamelessly eating them straight off the vine! I, for one, will still be taking the chance and enjoying fresh, delicious blackberries, and I hope that you will too!

If you’ve ever come across wild blackberry bushes while hiking an off-road path through woods, you know that the plump purple berries taste incredibly sweet straight from the bush. If berries aren’t wild in your area, you can always get them from the produce or freezer section of your grocery store, or perhaps from a farmers market in the summer. Ripe blackberries can be found in various parts of the United States from May to September.

Remember to prepare some delicious, enchanted, and curse-free blackberry dumplins for yourself!

when should you not eat blackberries

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Eating 10 Blackberries Every Day Will Do This To Your Body


Why not eat blackberries after September?

Don’t eat blackberries after 29th September The story goes that Lucifer was chucked out of heaven on this day – Michaelmas day; also sometimes said to be on Old Michaelmas Day; 11th October – and he had the misfortune of landing in a big patch of brambles.

When should you not eat blackberry?

Mold: Those gray, white or green fuzzy areas on the blackberry means they should be tossed. Mold spores spread quick! Moldy blackberries = bad.

Why shouldn’t you pick blackberries below the waist?

Pick above the waist – It’s pretty likely that someone (and their dog) has been in the area before you. To avoid any potential contamination, we highly recommend that you only pick berries above the waist or in places you are certain no one else has been to.

What happens when you eat too much blackberries?

1) Digestive Issues: Consuming too many blackberries can cause digestive issues such as diarrhoea , bloating, and constipation. This is because blackberries contain a high amount of fibre, which is important for maintaining digestive health but can cause problems when consumed in excess.

What happens if you don’t eat blackberries?

Vitamin K deficiency may lead to bone thinning and bone fractures. It may cause easy bruising, heavy menstrual bleeding, and blood in the stool or in the urine. Just one cup of raw blackberries provides almost 29 micrograms — over one-third of the daily recommended value — of vitamin K.

Do blackberries go bad quickly?

Blackberries can last between two to three days in your refrigerator, after which they can start to rot and turn mouldy. You can freeze blackberries and store them in the freezer so that you can access the fresh fruit year-round. Freezing blackberries can extend their shelf life up to nine months.

When should you eat blackberries?

There are a lot of historical myths and superstitions about blackberries, but the most widespread belief is that you should not eat blackberries after a certain day of the year. Although the precise date varies somewhat, the date usually given is September 29 or “Michaelmas day” which is named after the archangel Michael.

Can you eat blackberries after September 29?

But the rule against eating blackberries after September 29 comes not from seasonality but from the story of the Archangel Michael, for whom the day is named. Michael, the greatest of all angels, defeated the angel Lucifer in a huge battle and banished him from heaven, the lore goes. At that point Lucifer became the devil.

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