May 29 - Oak Apple Day in England

Posted on May 29, 2020

I didn't even know that some oaks grow "oak apples" - which aren't fruit (of course - the fruit of an oak is an acorn!), but rather galls. Galls are abnormal swelling growth on plants - things like benign tumors or warts on animals. But oak apples really do look like apples!

May 29 is called Oak Apple Day in commemoration of this date in 1660, when the English monarchy was officially restored.

You see, there was this whole English Civil War, when a Roundhead army (supporters of Parliament) fought against royalists (supporters of the king, in this case King Charles I) for control of England's government. The Roundheads won; in 1649 Charles I was executed, his son (Charles II) was exiled, and soon after Oliver Cromwell became the leader of the nation.

Even though the monarchy was squelched only around a decade, the English Civil War established that a king or queen cannot rule Britain without the consent of Parliament. 

Now, what the heck does any of that have to do with oak apples?

Apparently Charles II hid from Roundhead armies in an oak tree. 

Because of that historical story (I'm not sure if the hiding-in-an-oak-tree story is true or not!), English people decorated porches and gates with oak branches.

People would wear oak apples or sprigs of oak leaves. In some places, anyone who wasn't wearing oak would be pinched; in other places ridiculously terrible things like being pelted with eggs or being thrashed with nettles would befall anyone not wearing oak!

Other traditions are still carried out in some places. A statue of Charles II is decorated each year with a garland of oak leaves. There are processions of people holding oak branches or oak-leaf-decorated sticks. There are re-enactment activities and wood gathering activities.
I am not sure if any of these activities will occur in 2020...?

Bermuda Day

(Last Friday in May)

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