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Who Cares About National Coffee Day When It’s National Poisoned Blackberries Day

Forget coffee. Today is a day of remembrance for something far more important: when the Devil himself pissed all over Scotland's entire blackberry supply. Today is National Poisoned Blackberries Day.
Photo via Flickr user Hindrik Sijens

All of your coffee-bean-sniffing, foam-art-Instagramming besties are probably atwitter about today being National Coffee Day. Chains such as Dunkin' Donuts and McDonalds are kindly dispensing free cups of coffee (no word on whether their offerings are damn fine) and the whole nation is chirping spiritedly about how much they love drinking hot, beany stimulant-water together every morning in attempts to actually get stuff done rather than surrender to the misery of their schedule and nap under their desk.


Forget coffee. Today is a day of awareness, and of remembrance, for something far more important. Today is National Poisoned Blackberries Day.

It's an odd-sounding day, and for good reason. The "national" part is definitely specious, as the holiday doesn't seem to be enshrined as such by any given nation. But whence the poisoned blackberries?

Well, today also happens to be Michaelmas, a feast day in the Western Christian tradition that began in the Middle Ages and celebrates that time the archangel Michael beat the shit out of Lucifer. In 1752, though, the British adopted the Gregorian calendar, which bumped Michaelmas back by 11 days to October 10. That's now considered Old Michaelmas Day, while today is just, you know, regular Michaelmas.

But back to the blackberries: Legend has it that when the Devil was kicked out of heaven, he fell straight into a horribly scratchy but surely quaint blackberry briar. In Satanic fashion, he responded like, "Fuck y'all, I'm going to pee on and subsequently poison all of the blackberries in Scotland" like an angry, sloppy-drunk teenager who just got thrown out of a kegger and revenge-pisses on the mailbox. (The more buttoned-up version is that Satan spit on the bushes.) From then on, this date would mark the time when all of the berries should be harvested and eaten, as thereafter they're likely bogus and/or deadly.

Another theory suggests that the holiday dates back to the 18th century, when death from foraging was still fairly common, particularly due to lethal blackberries above all other fruits. For this reason, people would actually seek out blackberries on September 29 because of their murderous capabilities. But no one seems actually sure which ones were allegedly poisonous, or whether some Scottish blackberries actually become poisonous after this day.

Well, as we know anecdotally from eating lots of unwashed blackberries from chain supermarkets, these seedy little bad boys are typically edible unless generously showered in the Devil's urine. A more common avenue for getting your ass totally poisoned is to consume berries that deceptively resemble blackberries, but are actually a more sinister species. Even then, you're much more likely to have a reaction akin to a night of heavy drinking and bad sushi than you are to simply drop dead (unless you're Jennifer Aniston's coworker in the The Good Girl, who foolishly trusted a roadside vendor who was apparently slanging Satan-piss berries).

Should you want to combine this holiday with that other, roastier, slightly more popular one that offers drinkable handouts, and supposing that today is also, coincidentally, your birthday, you can purchase this conveniently predesigned mug that proudly declares that you were born on National Poisoned Blackberries Day. (The handle turns black when warm!)

And if neither of these holidays are to your liking, you can always make up your own.