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A Happy The Devil Spits Day to You!

Being that our wedding anniversary is 11 October and the well of my genius has been running dry as of late, I decided to scour the internet (ie search on Wikipedia) for a(nother) interesting event that might have happened on this day in history.

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After scanning the list of notable events, I remained mostly uninspired… until my eyes alighted on Old Michaelmas Day.

According to Celtic folklore, 11 October is the precise date that Lucifer fell from heaven. Unfortunately for blackberries, it was a blackberry bush that broke the Devil’s fall. Hot-tempered and reactive (classic Devil behaviour), he spit and (according to some elite sources) urinated on the bush, cursing the fruit.

Demon Milton's Paradise 1885
Devil loo footage

So, our wedding anniversary, Old Michaelmas Day, is also known as The Devil Spits Day. Rolls right off the tongue and is so romantic, isn’t it?!

The Devil’s curse explains why blackberries tend to become manky, slimy, and even toxic after 11 October each year, and every good country lad and lassie knows not to touch the berries come autumn (B has never heard of this rule or holiday).

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A bit of blackberry crewel work, what I did… stay back, Devil! Don’t curse my berries!

In Irish folklore, the cursing of the fruit is attributed to the púca. For those of you who don’t know, púca or phooka are basically little fairy-devil-creatures that take on various shapes/embody various animals/come in varying degrees of evil. Think Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

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This all makes sense, really, because as B and I learned from an enlightening museum exhibit in Bruges, Satan usually comes in the form of a goat anyways, and requires that people (mostly witches) kiss his bum in deference. So it’s easy to see how the Devil could be conflated with púca, and the exact culprit of the curse be up for debate.

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Classic example of Devil Bum Kissing

This was certainly all news to me, but did any of you grow up hearing the tale of the Devil’s spit or celebrating Old Michaelmas Day? Any púca sightings out there? Halloween is coming apace! Let me know in the comments!


And B,

Happy Anniversary, my love! I can’t wait to learn more witchy and weird things with you in the future (because, as that show helpfully informed us on Monday, we never stop learning). As you are a man with many words, care to contribute this week’s Weekes Word?

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xWG // @dazeandweekes // @weekes

31 thoughts on “A Happy The Devil Spits Day to You! Leave a comment

    • The bum kissing was a big thing. Big thing. Prime tapestry material. We left the museum a bit shell-shocked.

      That Puck is surely not weirder than the super disturbing Puck monologue we witnessed in that acting class??? Your stage combat partner??? hahaha

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  1. You know how I absolutely love these little insights and delving into folklore you do! Just fascinating! I feel I have seen that depiction of devil bum kissing. How can that be and from what source do I have this dejavu with that? Possibly an illustration in a book on my Grandmother Thomas’ book case…..possibly Cyrano de Bergerac (sp?)……..one of my faves as the illustrations were, well, you know, “interesting”. But I digress. I was wondering about the word puke. You know, “he makes me want to puke”. Do you suppose that comes from PUCA. Just a thought. Anyhow, I love your blog and was really looking forward to B’s input. Will we never be able to pierce that inherent British reserve?

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    • Be honest now, Mom: are you a witch? Is the devil bum kissing familiar to you because the goat-devil came to you and lured you into kissing his bum? And now you’ve buried the experience as if it were a dream? A distant childhood memory? This be witchcraft, I say!

      Wow, good question about puke because the answer is actually very interesting!! ‘Puke’ IS an Old Swedish spelling of ‘puca’ however, that seems to be the only connection between the verb ‘puke’ and the puca from what I can tell. Puke, as in to vomit, is actually believed to have first been used by Shakespeare in ‘As You Like It’!! It’s an onomatopoeia–phonetically imitative of the action it describes. Isn’t that a distinguished origin for a gross word??

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  2. Happy The Devil Spits Day right back at ya! Although I am a bit cross that I have somehow managed to miss blackberry season AGAIN this year. Cuss you, city living! I only learned of the Devil’s disproportionate response to having his fall broken by a blackberry bush (seriously, how ungrateful! Would he really rather have landed on the ground?) in the last few years, from my boyfriend’s mum. And even though we’re in Ireland, I’ve only ever heard Devil being held accountable for tainted berries, rather than a púca. Maybe it’s a regional thing? That said, where Boyfriend is from, they call any inedible mushrooms that pop up in the fields “pookies” – could there be a link? 🤔

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    • Awwwww I’m so glad it’s a tale that people still tell! (I am now [really unfairly/probably offensively stereotypical-ly] picturing Boyfriend’s Mum as this adorable little folksy woman with a rolling pin making blackberry pies.)

      YES, those mushroom pookies are linked!!!! So, apparently, fellow-Dubliner and 19th century ‘Fairy Mythologist’ (ummm why is that not my title/job?!) Thomas Keightley discussed fungi in his 1828 work ‘Fairy Mythology’. His traditional names for mushrooms are elf-inspired, and ‘pookies’ (termed ‘Gaelic slang’) is derived from Puck > Pooka > pookie. But from what I’m further reading, pookie seems to specifically refer to hallucinogenic Liberty Caps these days. (Trying not to click on too many sketchy drug links from my work computer – IT is probably flagging me up as we speak!) Hmmmmmm…. this could require some further ground level research. I’m sure Paddy would be happy to test them out, but I’m not so sure his constitution could handle it… perhaps Explorer Beastie is up for the task?!

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      • Hahaha! I’ll not spoil that charming mental image by telling you about the time we tried to make a lemon meringue pie and forgot to add sugar to the meringue mix… 😂

        Anyway, I think your research has definitely earned you some honorary Fairy Mythologist stripes – which is impressive, because I think fairy mythologising is pretty much a closed shop these days! It was worth getting your name added to your IT department’s watch list, right? Hopefully I’ll be heading “down the country” sometime soon, so I’ll be able to continue your good work on the ground. But know that if I end up with a bunch of Beasties who are strung out on pookies, I’m putting them in a box and sending them to you to deal with! 😂

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      • Mmmm that meringue sounds…..delicious! I’m sure it wasn’t your fault. I’m sure a puca hid the sugar.

        IT will have a field day with the rich tapestry of my search history… they are probably compiling a large case file on me until they are sure they have enough evidence to come and haul me away from my desk. ‘She appears to be on that BEASTIE website again.’ ‘What could that be?!’ ‘Sounds suspicious!’

        If you do noble work as my Fairy Mythology Investigator (Irish Branch), then I promise to set up a Beastie Halfway House in London.

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      • Yes! That’s right… A púca did it! 😂 That’s my new excuse for everything. I suggest you try it out on your overzealous IT people if they dare to question your search history! At least I got to eat the entire lemon mer-wrong pie myself, because it was so ugly no-one else would touch it.

        Anyway, I’m off to prepare a team of psychedelia-loving Beasties to further investigate the properties of pookies – hope you’ve got that Halfway House ready to go! 😉

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      • Hahaha they’ll definitely haul me off with that excuse! Today I’m searching death photography–maybe everyone will be too scared to approach me and ask me for things.

        I could seriously go for some ugly lemon mer-wrong to alleviate these Monday blues!!!! 🙂

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      • Ha! Lemon mer-wrong pie is perfect for dispelling the Monday blues… tastes great, but looks so appalling that no-one will ask you to share! 😆
        Hey, is that death photography as in that Victorian-era (I think) fad for photographing your deceased loved ones before they’re buried? That should definitely help to keep the more fragile of your coworkers at bay! 😀

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      • Haha that’s the one! I was gonna do some death photography myth-busting on the blog this week, but I’m honestly finding it difficult to sneakily sift through these creepy photos in an open-plan office, so I’m not sure I will be able to finish in time!!! (Don’t I sound like a model employee??)

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      • Haha I’m sure they would if they could! Everything is BLOCKED on our computers… including Gmail! Somehow WordPress has slipped under the radar. Daily I get a terrifying popup being like (this is a summation of the message/my interpretation) ‘WE HAVE RECORDED WHAT YOU SEARCHED AND YOU SHALL NOT PASS YOU ARE TRYING TO LOOK AT PORN CLEARLY’.

        Augh, I’ve been crazy with these work-people wanting things this week. Didn’t even have a moment of sly sketchy corpse searching today!

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      • How inconsiderate! What do they want from you?! And that goes for the 1984-style “we are watching” popup too… Jeez, they’re practically INVITING you to hunt out all the unblocked sites that are still available to to you!

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      • I know, right?! Fax this. Scan that. Don’t look at the Internet or anything nice. Answer this abusive phone call. Type that.

        What am I, your secretary?!?! Oh… I guess I sorta am 😬😬😬😬

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  3. Congratulations on the anniversary!

    I love folk legends, and the whole Old Michaelmas Day thing (which I had not heard before) grabbed me immediately. I spent the day shaping up a first draft of poem with it.

    Old Michaelmas Day

    How does an Angel get to become a Saint?
    I mean, Angel in heaven after all—
    Miracles are just another Monday,
    Martyrdom is not immortal.

    Now here, we take October
    And are generally pleased with it.
    Shorter days still bright, afternoons without gloves
    Handling work to do before snow falls.

    But then, he tosses Satan out and down,
    And his red ass lands on our blackberry bush—
    Pissed-off and spitting, a devil of must—
    Spoiling our last fruit.

    Michael, if it’s not too much to ask, leave good and evil up there.
    It distracts us, and we forget we have things to get done.

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    • Brilliant!! Puca-inspired poetry! I like how you’ve written it in a labourer’s voice–evocative of Hardy and befitting of folklore–as one concerned with earthly survival (but who is occasionally obliged to glance upward). Thank you for sharing!

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    • Spuyten Duyvil seems to actually be more literally translated as ‘Spouting Devil’, referring to the rather tumultuous creek by the same name. However, there seems to be debate around the etymology–Spinning Devil, Devil’s whirlpool, Devil’s spate, Devil’s Spite being some other suggestions. Regardless, I enjoy sounding ridiculous and saying that name out loud!

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  4. If only you had known all this before your wedding. Your husband could have dressed as Lucifer and you could have worn something bramble-y looking. Wait, no, then he would have been falling on you and turning you rotten (and possibly forcing you to spend your honeymoon in hospital). I guess this is why I’m not a wedding planner. However, just think of all the guests having to kiss his bum!

    Also, I’m happy to see another October wedding anniversary!! Mine was on the first of October and now I’m very jealous I didn’t think of researching some fantastic bit of lore associated with that date to celebrate with all of BlogLandia (I’m totally stealing this idea next year, though!).

    As far as spoiled blackberries and bum-kissing…sadly, the US is very slim on fun folklore so I’ve never heard any of this. However, I have heard of a puca because (thank you, Hollywood) in the movie Harvey, Jimmy Stewart’s “imaginary” rabbit is defined as a puca…a fantastic being that causes mischief and only appears to certain people.

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    • Hahahaha a Devil Spits Theme Wedding–brilliant!! Maybe we can make up for missing that chance with our Halloween costumes this year (yeah, right, as if B would ever dress up for any occasion).

      Happy Belated Anniversary! I look forward next year to learning what wacky event is associated with October 1st.

      Yaasssss, I know!! What a weird example of a puca–you’d think he’d have a less prosaic name and not be wearing a bow tie. But each puca to his own, I guess!!

      Liked by 1 person

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