Blackberries—A particular Irish and Cornwall fairy tradition has it that blackberries and sloes can’t be gathered and eaten on NOVEMBER EVE or after for as long as their season lasts, since the FAIRIES pass over them on November Eve (Halloween) and render them inedible. A variant suggests that the DEVIL shakes his crutches over them on Halloween night, although in Sussex blackberries weren’t eaten after October 10—MICHAELMAS in the old calendar—when the devil was thought to have spit on them. In fact, there’s some basis to this superstition, since it’s about this time that night frosts set in, which render the berries bitter-tasting and shriveled. In some variations, the blackberries are not to be eaten after Michaelmas (now September 29), since it is said that the devil has trampled them, spat on them or even urinated on them after that point.

A gambling tradition holds that bad luck can be changed to good by hiding under a blackberry bush on Halloween night and invoking the aid of Satan.

Blackberries also figure in one FORTUNETELLING custom: A man who wished to learn the identity of his future wife could crawl under a blackberry bush on Halloween, where he would see her shadow. In a variation, a man could crawl into a briar bush that was rooted on both ends, and call on evil spirits to grant a request.


The Halloween Encyclopedia Second Edition written by Lisa Morton © 2011 Lisa Morton. All rights reserved