It's quite a while since my last blog post. Have you missed me? 😂😂
Those of you who are regular readers will know that I love a bit of history and tradition so I thought I would treat you all to one of the lesser known English traditions associated with this time of year.
It's the time of year we call Michaelmas, more traditionally known as harvest time, and in medieval England, farmers used Michaelmas as a time to finish the reaping and start preparing for winter. As it falls near the equinox, the day is associated with the beginning of autumn and shorter days in England. It's one of the “quarter days”.
There are traditionally four “quarter days” in a year - Lady Day (25th March), Midsummer (24th June), Michaelmas (29th September) and Christmas (25th December). They are spaced three months apart, on religious festivals, usually close to the solstices or equinoxes. They were the four dates on which servants were hired, land was exchanged, debts were paid, rents due or leases begun. This is how it came to be for Michaelmas to be a time for selecting magistrates and also the beginning of legal and university terms. It used to be said that the harvest had to be completed by Michaelmas, almost like the marking of the end of the productive season and the beginning of the new cycle of farming.
Michaelmas is a religious holiday celebrated on 29th September every year by some Christian churches and it's a centuries old event. More formally known as the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel. It was once one of the most important days of the Christian year. Not as important as Christmas or Easter but ranking on a par with Shrove Tuesday.
St Michael was given his own feast day by Pope Gelasius in AD 487 and afterwards several apparitions of Michael were reported from around the world. One was in the 8th century at what is now Mont St. Michel in Normandy, France and another at St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. There is also a flower named after him - the Michaelmas Daisy, which flowers late in the season.
What's all this got to do with the devil spitting I hear you ask?
Patron saint of knights and grocers, St. Michael is often depicted as a winged young man wearing either white robes or clad in armour.
The story goes that the Archangel Michael defeated the angel Lucifer in a huge battle and banished him from heaven. At that point Lucifer became the devil. When Lucifer bounced onto the floor of hell he landed in a thorny blackberry bush. This made him so mad that he spat on the bush and cursed its fruit.
This is why those who are superstitious won't eat blackberries picked after 29th September, a date which is also sometimes known as poisoned blackberry day. By this time of the year blackberries are probably not at their best anyway so it's a good idea to eat them all up beforehand.
If you are bored with blackberry and apple pie or crumble, I've got a great recipe for blackberry & white chocolate cupcakes to help you make the most of the blackberry season. Or you can always make jam!
And just a reminder - now that we have come out of lockdown I'm getting rather busy so if you are looking to book a cake for your wedding or celebration get in touch as soon as you can to reserve your date and avoid disappointment.
Sharing the cake love!