A historical perspective upon ‘Michelmas the evil avocado’…

Today, I am happy to share with our readers the contents of an illuminating letter sent to us by Watson Potson, Professor of Avocadology at the University of Montreal.

I note with interest the recent publicity that you have generated with regard to ‘Michelmas the evil avocado’. This is a phenomenon that has vaster historic precedents that many of you may have realised. Firstly I must point out that the avocado itself was not introduced to Europe before the 16th century, and it took more time before it became more widely known. I believe that ‘Michelmas’ did appear well before this time in Europe, even back to Greek and Roman times – the problem is that it was given different names during different periods and in different regions. Only by a vast amount of textual scholarship am I able to start linking together these sightings.

As the avocado is a native of Central America, I believe that Michelmas is no other than ‘Mixchotaquex’ – the Evil Avocado God. Tribute was paid to ‘Mixchotaquex’ by Central American tribes to order to ensure a good avocado harvest each year. In years where avocado crops were poor, it was said that Mixchotaquex was angry and was punishing the people.

The first credible sighting in Europe was at the Court of Charlemagne on Michelmas Day 813AD. It appeared before the Emperor, and was dubbed ‘The green Michelmas demon’. We do not know whether the fact that Charlemagne died the following year is coincidental or related.

However, the day of its appearance is significant, because that is how it received its name. Although since then it has been referred to as the ‘green devil’, ‘green spirit’, ‘green messenger of the Anti-Christ’ amongst other things, it has always been prefixed with the name ‘Michelmas’.

Further sightings were reported in Russia, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Western Europe, Scandinavia and North America over the next one thousand years. However, it is claimed (but this may be no more than legend) that he appeared before Napoleon on the evening of the Battle of Waterloo. Apparently Napoleon screamed in fright and exclaimed “C’est des Michelmas, l’avocat mauvais”. The name stuck, but things do not go too well for Napoleon from that point forwards.

Whilst there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of documented sightings since that date, popular knowledge of and belief in the existence of ‘Michelmas the evil avocado’ has dwindled in recent times. Often regarded as no more than a folktale or popular superstition, many people are often shocked and devastated by a visit from Michelmas – all the more so when their lives are destroyed, but nobody will believe that an ‘evil avocado’ was responsible for their misfortunes.

I hope that this information is of some use to you.

With Kind Regards,
Professor Watson K. Potson, Department of Avocadology
University of Montreal

We thank Professor Potson for this contribution. If you have any further information to contribute, please do not hesitate to let us know.