Ninth Day of Messidor – The Green Fairy

• Month: Messidor, month of the Harvest

• Day: Nonidi, the ninth day of the (decimal, ten-day) week

• Named for: Absinthe, Wormwood, or Artemesia.

Artemesia with cuckoo spit
Artemesia with cuckoo spit

Today, the ninth day of Messidor, is named in honour of wormwood, Artemesia absinthium.

Wormwood has been used for a host of things for centuries. Perhaps most famously as the key ingredient in “the green fairy”, absinthe.

It’s conceivable that without Artemesia, James Joyce wouldn’t have been just quite so touched in the head.

Beloved by Paris bohemians, absinthe suffered a Daily Mail-esque moral scare regarding all sorts of detrimental health effects from insanity to loose morals, largely attributed to the wormwood in it. For this reason it was widely banned for most of the twentieth century.

It has a very bitter taste. Both in Shakespeare and the Bible, the plant is used metaphorically to refer to bitterness – both the flavour, and the emotion.

For those interested, there are certain sites on the web more…experimental…than this one, where you can read people’s accounts of investigating wormwood’s psychoactive properties!

(The variety pictured isn’t absinthe wormwood, alas, so I can’t give you a first-hand account!)

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