Centuries ago, though no one is quite sure when, Michael the Archangel engaged in war with the forces of evil. It was a great battle that ended with the expulsion of Lucifer and his minions from Heaven. And to add injury to insult, the story goes, Lucifer fell directly into a large, thorny blackberry bush and got so mad he spit on the otherwise delicious fruit.
Originally, the story of this epic battle was extrapolated from a few verses in the twelfth chapter of Revelation and explored by a number of writers including John Milton. Today, the interpretation of those verses is widely debated by Biblical scholars with most assuming that they don’t really refer to a Heavenly battle in the distant past, but instead represent an end-of-days battle to come.
But sometime in the fifth century, a basilica near Rome began to celebrate the feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, also called Michaelmas, on September 30, the traditional day the battle was won. It’s been celebrated to varying degrees ever since.
How exactly the blackberry bush became a part of the legend isn’t entirely clear, but the tale emerged from England where Michaelmas was widely considered the marker of the change of seasons from summer to fall. Since Revelation contains oh-so-delightful imagery of Satan spewing a river of dragon drool, and since blackberries, which usually peak in August, are pretty iffy by the end of September, I suppose it stands to reason that the two are somehow related. I guess.
Or maybe it’s just that with the shifting of the seasons, from long days and ripe berries, into long nights and barren fields feels a little unfair. And Lucifer is just the kind of jerk that might add injury to insult and spit poison all over the last vestiges of summer goodness.
Or it could just be an excuse to eat blackberry pie and celebrate a holiday with a ridiculous name, because by tomorrow, blackberries the world over will be covered in poisonous Satan spit, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to take any chances.
The wisest course of action, then, is to bake your last summer pie of the season today, in honor of Poisoned Blackberries Day. Because Satan is a jerk.
But if that’s not reason enough for you to celebrate, then perhaps you could bake a pie in recognition of another equally ridiculous and even less well-known event that also occurs today. Because this is my 200th post on this silly little blog that pretends to be about history. I think a milestone like that deserves a slice of non-Satan-spit-poisoned pie.