May 29: Oak Apple Day

Charles_II_(de_Champaigne)Oak Apple Day is an old holiday in England, that doesn’t seem to be very widely celebrated anymore, but I found the story fascinating.

On January 30, 1649, during the English Civil War, King Charles I was executed at Whitehall, and his son, Charles II, was left with a country in chaos. In September, Charles II was defeated by the troops under Oliver Cromwell, and he ran for his life. For the next six weeks, he moved in disguise (no easy feat for this dark, 6’2″ royal) with his Catholic supporters and eventually escaped to France, where he stayed until 1660. Oak Apple Day is celebrated on the anniversary of his triumphant arrival in London, May 29, 1660.

King_Charles_II_and_Colonel_William_Carlos_in_the_Royal_Oak_by_Isaac_FullerThe name of this holiday actually refers to his best known hiding place during his days as a fugitive in England. The king was in Boscobel House in Shropshire, when a man named William Carless suggested they would be safer outside. Charles and Carless both hid in an oak apple near the house, all day, watching as soldiers searched the house and even walked underneath the tree.

Garland King on Oak Apple DayThe holiday is mainly celebrated by reenactments, parades with the “Garland King” (a man covered in flowers), and wearing sprigs of oak.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
for I hide myself in you.”

Psalm 143:8-9

Last year I covered another history based holiday on May 29: End of the Middle Ages Day.


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