14 Sep 2012


As well as all the other things I loved about Karen Maitland's The Owl Killers (see my review HERE) I found it interesting that each chapter of the book was headed by a brief outline of some Saint/Saint's Day which occurred in the month on which that particular portion of the book focused. Take for example September and Devil's Nutting Day when .....

Those who gather nuts on this day will be gathered straight to hell or driven mad. Any unwed maidens who gathers nuts this day will reap a crop of bastards.
-The Owl Keepers: Page 199.

September the 14th, the 'Day of the Holy Nut' was the day in which young people went into the woods to forage for hazelnuts which if collected on this day were believed to have magical properties, a double nut (two on a stalk) warding off rheumatism, toothache and .... the spells of witches.

But beware, it was also the day in which legend had it that young maidens who go out a nutting are in danger of becoming pregnant - without the benefit of marriage for as some sources suggest there were 'nutting parties' within the forests and groves wherein hazelnuts grew which 'afforded occasion for outdoor lovemaking'.

Connected to wisdom and protection, hazelnuts are often to be found near sacred wells and magical springs, the word 'hazel' itself being associated with the Celtic tree month of Coll, Coll meaning the life force inside you.

The Celtic tree month?

Yes, according to the Celtic Tree Calendar (shown below) ..... otherwise known as Ogham, an early medieval alphabet, the names of trees were ascribed to the individual letters of the then alphabet.

Anyway, on to the 21st of 
September, 'Devil's Nutting Day' (and also incidentally St Matthew's Day), on which it is said us mere mortals should never gather nuts.

The reason being ......

Hmm, not too clear on this one BUT .....

Some legends have it that it was on this day that the devil, out gathering nuts in Warwickshire (as he would), happened across the Virgin Mary and was so startled that he dropped his bag of nuts (well, he would, wouldn't he?) OR was it that he was commanded to drop his bag of nuts by Mary? Either way, depending on which story you believe, the devil dropped his bag of nuts creating a hill that became known as the Devil's Nightcap.

Whilst other legends state that it was on this day that the devil, or some similar entity, would come and hold the tree branches down so that people could more easily 'nut'.

Mind you, this isn't the only day in September to be connected with the devil. 

English folklore also warns about the picking of blackberries on the 29th of September, Michaelmas, Goose Day OR 'Devil Spits Day', as it said that they belong to the devil.

Believing that when Satan fell from Heaven he landed in a blackberry bush and was so angry that he spat on the bush, cursing the blackberries still remaining - it is true that if not picked by this time of year maggots and/or early frosts (OR the devil?) will more than likely have spoilt the crop.

Sources: Avalon Revisited, paganwiccan.about.com, learnenglish/culture, joellessacredgrove.com, celteros, mysteriousbritain.co.uk


Trac~ said...

Hmmm... Quite interesting. I've never heard of any of these folklores before. It must have been a full moon or something this week - enjoy that chocolate bar! :) xoxoxo

Suko said...

You always find the most odd and interesting "holidays"!

A Lady's Life said...

Wow this was interesting. lol
I found some hazel nuts at the soccer field. I brought them home and grew little trees.
I love growing things from nature.
Unfortunately you need land to replant them so they grow huge and I grow so many.
So I put them in the forest but I am sure they do not survive.

Jenners said...

Well, I must say I never heard of this one but I shall be careful and gather no nuts on this day. Don't want to take any chances!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Maybe they should be aware of the type of nuts they gather... ;)

Jeannie said...

No fear here. I don't think we have any hazelnut or blackberry bushes nearby.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

oh goodness, never heard of any of these stories! quite interesting though. thanks for the information. i learn so much on your blog. :)

Natasha said...

This is so cool and interesting! I really enjoy reading about things like this and I didn't know there was a Celtic Tree Calendar - how interesting! And I do agree with you, it scares me how young kids are with the internet. My friend at university and I were shocked to see 13 year olds in full make-up with Blackberry phones one day! xxx

The Golden Eagle said...

The Ogham alphabet is interesting. I wonder what they did if they found a new tree species.

naida said...

Both odd and interesting. I hadnt heard of 'Day of the Holy Nut' before.
*note to self* Don't gather nuts on the 21st of September :P

Betty Manousos said...

i have to admit that i have never heard of this one, quite interesting though!
i've always been fascinated by celtic folklores. and music as well!


DMS said...

Great- I didn't read this until today and I went out nut gathering on the 14th. I am not getting married until next year. I guess we will have to see if the legend is accurate...

Loved this post- I learned so much (but maybe too late). :)

GMR said...

Huh...well now that's certainly going to count as something new I learned today. *-*