Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

St. Michael’s Day

Apart from the purplish hue of the ling, the crimson shade of this bramble leaf also holds a special place in my colour preferences. It seems this vibrant colouration owes its existence to anthocyanins, naturally occurring chemicals found in blackberries. These compounds come together within certain leaves when sugar levels experience an increase during the Autumn season, thus granting them their distinctive red hue1‘Autumn Leaf Color’, Wikipedia (Wikimedia Foundation) <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autumn_leaf_color#Anthocyanins> [accessed 29 September 2023]. While that’s my take on the scientific rationale, the phenomenon of just a couple of leaves among a multitude of brambles assuming this scarlet hue remains a puzzle to me.

Today, of course, marks St. Michael’s Day, a day associated with the legend of St. Michael’s battle with the devil, resulting in Satan’s fall to Earth, where he purportedly landed on a bramble bush, cursing it, or worse.

This age-old tradition enjoys recognition in various iterations across all corners of Britain, even as far north as the Orkney Islands. The tale goes that the devil leaves his mark on bramble bushes by scorching them with a swipe of his hoof, and typically, this time of year reveals blackened streaks adorning blackberry bushes – the devil’s hoofprints2‘A Garden Diary. The Charm of Ornamental Trees and Shrubs. | Weekly Dispatch (London) | Sunday 23 October 1927 | British Newspaper Archive’. 2023. Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk <https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0003358/19271023/118/0008> [accessed 29 September 2023]. In Yorkshire, it’s said that the devil spits upon them, while in Cornwall, he takes his unpleasant business even further by urinating on them3‘Christian Festival’, Wikipedia.org (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.) <https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michaelmas#Old_Michaelmas_Day> [accessed 29 September 2023].

Hence, the picking of blackberries after the 29th of September is inadvisable.

Wishing you a joyous Michaelmas Day!






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