- In Elizabethan times the seed of ferns was thought to be invisible, except for a few moments around *midnight on *Mid-summer Eve, when it could be seen falling to the ground; anyone who could catch some in a pewter plate would be invisible while he carried it. In 19th-century Lancashire, 'It is said that young people went to Clough, near Mos-ton, to gather silently the seeds of "St John's fern" on the Eve of St John's Day, to gain the affections of those maidens who would not accept their attentions' (Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society 25 (1907), 69). In Lincolnshire, *St Mark's Eve was called 'the Devil's Harvest' because ferns were said to bud, blossom, and yield seed, all between midnight and 1 a.m., and the Devil would harvest it; anyone who caught some between two pewter plates would become as wise as the Devil (J. A. Penny, Lincolnshire N&Q 3 (1892-3) 209).
A Dictionary of English folklore. Jacqueline Simpson & Steve Roud. 2014.
Look at other dictionaries:
fernseed — fern seed n. The dustlike spores of ferns, formerly believed to be seeds and once thought to have the power of making their possessor invisible. * * * … Universalium
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taboos — Rules explicitly forbidding people to do some specific thing, often petty in itself, on pain of serious ill luck, or failure in some enterprise (as opposed to a mere belief that an action is unlucky). Current English examples are the bans on… … A Dictionary of English folklore