Appleton Thorn village is the only village in England where the ‘Bawming of the Thorn’ ceremony takes place. This celebration occurs on the third Saturday in June each year.
The thorn tree, which stands beside the church, is believed to be an offshoot of the Glastonbury thorn, which grew from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea. Adam de Dutton, a knight of the Crusades and local landowner, brought it to Appleton.
Bawming, which means, “decorating the tree with flowers and ribbons”, takes place each year, whilst local children dance and sing the Bawming song, which is sung to the tune of “Bonnie Dundee”:
The Bawming Song
The Maypole in spring merry maidens adorn,
Our midsummer May-Day means Bawming the Thorn.
On her garlanded throne sits the May Queen alone,
Here each Appleton lad has a Queen of his own
Up with fresh garlands this Midsummer morn,
Up with red ribbons on Appleton Thorn.
Come lasses and lads to the Thorn Tree today
To Bawm it and shout as ye Bawm it, Hooray!
The oak in its strength is the pride of the wood,
The birch bears a twig that made naughty boys good,
But there grows not a tree which in splendour can vie
With our thorn tree when Bawmed in the month of July.
Kissing under the rose is when nobody sees,
You may under the mistletoe kiss when you please;
But no kiss can be sweet as that stolen one be
Which is snatched from a sweetheart when Bawming the Tree.
Ye Appleton Lads I can promise you this;
When her lips you have pressed with a true lover’s kiss,
Woo’ed her and won her and made her your bride
Thenceforth shall she ne’er be a thorn in your side.
So long as this Thorn Tree o’ershadows the ground
May sweethearts to Bawm it in plenty be found.
And a thousand years hence when tis gone and is dead
May there stand here a Thorn to be Bawmed in its stead.
Here’s a video of the celebration:
The dates for this ritual varies from year to year. The word ‘Purnima’ means full moon, therefore the Vat purnima vrat is observed on the full moon day (15th day) of the Hindu month of Jyeshtha that is during the month of May-June as per the Gregorian calendar. In 2017, this falls on June 9. In 2018 it will fall on June 27.
Vat Purnima or Wat Purnima (वट पूर्णिमा, vaṭapūrṇimā, also called Vat Savitri is a celebration observed by married women in the Western Indian states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and some regions of eastern Uttar Pradesh. On this Purnima, a married woman marks her love for her husband by tying a ceremonial thread around a banyan tree. The celebration is based on the legend of Savitri and Satyavan as narrated in the epic Mahabharata.
The legends dates back to a story in the age of Mahabharata. The childless king Asvapati and his consort Malavi wish to have a son. To have a child, he performed penances and offered prayers. Finally the God Savitr appears and tells him he will soon have a daughter. The king is overjoyed at the prospect of a child. She is born and named Savitri in honor of the god.
Since she was born due to her father’s severe penances, she naturally led an ascetic life. However, she is so beautiful and pure,all the men in her village are intimidated and no man will ask for her hand in marriage. Her father tells her to find a husband on her own. She sets out on a pilgrimage for this purpose and finds Satyavan, the son of a blind king named Dyumatsena who lives in exile as a forest-dweller. Savitri returns to find her father speaking with Sage Narada who tells her she has made a bad choice: although perfect in every way, Satyavan is destined to die one year from that day.
Her father asked her to find someone else, but she refused, saying that she could select a man only once in a lifetime since she was of an ascetic spirit. Narada and her father agree. Savitri insists on going ahead and marries Satyavan.
Three days before the foreseen death of Satyavan, Savitri takes a vow of fasting and vigil. Her father-in-law tells her she has taken on too harsh a regimen, but she replies that she has taken an oath to perform the regimen and Dyumatsena offers his support. The morning of Satyavan’s predicted death, he is splitting wood and suddenly becomes weak and lays his head in Savitri’s lap and dies.
Savitri places his body under the shade of a Vat (Banyan) tree. Soon, the messengers of Yama appear on the scene to take away her husband, but Savitir refuses to hand her husband over to them. They can not take him away until Lord Yama Himself appears. Savitri follows him as he carries the soul away. She offers him praise. Lord Yama, impressed by both the content and style of her words, and seeing her matchless devotion, spiritual knowledge, and determination, offers her a boon.
She first asks for eyesight and restoration of the kingdom for her father-in-law, then a hundred children for her father, and then a hundred children for herself and Satyavan. The last wish creates a dilemma for Yama, as it would indirectly grant the life of Satyavan. However, impressed by Savitri’s dedication and purity, he asks her to wish one more time, “forgetting” to mention his denial to grant the third wish.
Savitri immediately asked for the life of Satyavan. The death god Yama who does not spare even an ant, grants life to Satyavan and blesses Savitri’s life with eternal happiness.
Satyavan awakens as though he has been in a deep sleep and returns to his parents along with his wife. Meanwhile, at their home, Dyumatsena regains his eyesight before Savitri and Satyavan return. Since Satyavan still does not know what happened, Savitri relays the story to her parents-in-law, husband, and the gathered ascetics. As they praise her, Dyumatsena’s ministers arrive with news of the death of his usurper. Joyfully, the king and his entourage return to his kingdom.
Though the tree does not play a significant role of the story, The banyan tree holds a unique significance in Hindu religion. As per the Hindu scriptures, it holds the essence of the three great Gods in Hindu mythology, Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh. The roots represents Brahma, the stem of Vat Vriksha is Vishnu while Shiva represents the upper part. It is believed that performing the rituals of the puja under this sacred tree, the devotees can fulfill all their desires. It is also worshiped in memory of the love in the legend.
Observing the Vat Purnima:
The festival is followed by married women only, and is prohibited for children and widows. On this day wives pray to the Divine for their husbands’ prosperity and longevity by performing Vat Purnima Puja Vidh which includes tying ritual threads around the trunk of a banyan tree; this ritual is also called the Peepal Puja.
In the present day, the festival is celebrated in the following way. Women dress in fine saris and jewelry, and their day begins with the offering of any five fruits and a coconut. Each woman winds white thread around a banyan tree seven times as a reminder of their husbands. They fast for the whole day.
The fast is also sometimes observed throughout the night until the next morning. The next morning women break their fast and offer charity to Brahmins. Women engage in the worship of a banyan tree, and listen to the legend of Savitri.
After, the women offer water to the tree and spread red powder (kumkum) on it, cotton threads are wrapped around the tree’s trunks and they do parikrama or circumambulate seven times around it.
Alternatively, on the occasion of Vat Purnima, women keep a fast of three days for their husbands, as Savitri did. During the three days, pictures of a Vat (banyan) tree, Savitri, Satyavan, and Yama, are drawn with a paste of sandal and rice on the floor or a wall in the home. The golden engravings of the couple are placed in a tray of sand, and worshiped with mantras (chanting), vermilion, saffron, sandalwood incense, fruit, and Vat leaves.
Outdoors, the banyan tree is worshiped. A thread is wound around the trunk of the tree, and copper coins are offered. Strict adherence to the fast and tradition is believed to ensure the husband a long and prosperous life. During the fast, women greet each other with “जन्म सावित्री हो” (English: “Become a Savitri”). It is believed that until the next seven births their husband will live well.
Just in the way that Savitri got her husband, Satyavan back from Yumraj, it is known that women who observe this auspicious fast will be blessed with good fortune and blissful married life.
Information collected from various sources.
Oak Apple Day or Royal Oak Day was a formal public holiday celebrated in England on 29 May to commemorate the restoration of the English monarchy, in May 1660. Parliament declared this to be a public holiday, “to be for ever kept as a day of thanksgiving for our redemption from tyranny and the King’s return to his Government, he entering London that day.”
Traditional celebrations to commemorate the event often entailed the wearing of oak apples or sprigs of oak leaves. , in reference to the occasion after the Battle of Worcester in September 1651, when Charles II escaped the Roundhead army by hiding in an oak tree near Boscobel House.
Anyone who failed to wear a sprig of oak risked being pelted with bird’s eggs or thrashed with nettles. In Sussex, those not wearing oak were liable to be pinched, giving rise to the unofficial name of “Pinch-bum Day”; similarly it was known as “Bumping Day” in Essex.
What is an Oak Apple?
An oak apple is a mutation of an oak leaf caused by chemicals injected by the larvae of certain kinds of gall wasp. It is a type of plant gall, possibly known in some parts of the country as a “shick-shack.”
In Upton Grey, Hampshire, after the church bells had been rung at 6 a.m. the bell-ringers used to place a large branch of oak over the church porch, and another over the lych gate. Smaller branches were positioned in the gateway of every house to ensure good luck for the rest of the year.
These ceremonies, which have now largely died out, are perhaps continuations of pre-Christian nature worship.
The Garland King who rides through the streets of Castleton, Derbyshire, at the head of a procession, completely disguised in a garland of flowers which is later affixed to a pinnacle on the parish church tower, can have little connection with the Restoration, even though he dresses in Stuart costume.
He is perhaps a kind of Jack in the Green and the custom may have transferred from May Day when such celebrations were permitted again after having been banned by the Puritans.
The public holiday, Oak Apple Day, was formally abolished by the Anniversary Days Observance Act 1859, but the date retains some significance in local or institutional customs.
Events still take place at Upton-upon-Severn in Worcestershire, Aston on Clun in Shropshire, Marsh Gibbon in Buckinghamshire, Great Wishford in Wiltshire (when villagers gather wood in Grovely Wood), and Membury in Devon. The day is generally marked by re-enactment activities at Moseley Old Hall, West Midlands, one of the houses where Charles II hid in 1651.
Fownhope, Hereford have an ongoing tradition in the celebration of Oak Apple Day. The Fownhope Heart of Oak Society organize an annual event, where members of the society gather at the local pub and march through the village holding flower and oak leaf decorated sticks, whilst following the society banner and a brass band. The march goes first to the church for a service, and then to houses who host refreshments.
The Heart of Oak Society was previously a friendly society, but had to reform in 1989 to keep the tradition going. Although Oak Apple Day celebrations have decreased in popularity and knowledge, Fownhope has managed to keep the event going, increasing in popularity and turn-out every year.
At All Saints’ Church, Northampton a statue of Charles II is wreathed at noon every Oak Apple Day, followed by a celebration of the Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer.
At some Oxford and Cambridge colleges a toast is still drunk to celebrate Oak Apple Day.
Oak Apple Day is also celebrated in the Cornish village of St Neot annually. The Vicar leads a procession through the village, he is followed by the Tower Captain holding the Oak bough. A large number of the villagers follow walking to the Church. A story of the history of the event is told and then the Vicar blesses the branch. The Tower Captain throws the old branch down from the top of the tower and a new one is hauled to the top.
Everyone is then invited to the vicarage gardens for refreshments and a barbecue. Up to 12 noon villagers wear a sprig of “red” (new) oak and in the afternoon wear a sprig of “Boys Love” (Artemisia abrotanum); tradition dictates that the punishment for not doing this results in being stung by nettles.
Also known as Celtic Faery Day, Faeries called Lunantishees are honored on November 11. Lunantishees were believed to be a tribe of fairies and guardians of the blackthorn tree, and so on this day, these trees or branches from these trees must not be cut. Should on person manage to cut a stick, some misfortune will surely befall him or her.
To honor these fairies on this day, tie a black ribbon around the trunk of a blackthorn tree and wish them well.
In celebration of this day, here’s a nice little poem from Flower Fairies:
The Sloe Fairy
When Blackthorn blossoms leap to sight,
They deck the hedge with starry light,
In early Spring
When rough winds blow,
A purple sloe.
And now is Autumn here, and lo,
The Blackthorn bears the purple sloe!
But ah, how much
Too sharp these plums,
Until the touch
Of Winter comes!
The sloe is a wild plum. One bite will set your teeth on edge until it has been mellowed by frost; but it is not poisonous.
The eleventh day of Christmas (Jan 4th) is Evergreen Day. An evergreen tree is a tree that has leaves in all seasons. This contrasts with deciduous trees which completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season.
The term “evergreen” can refer metaphorically to something that is continuously renewed or is self-renewing. One example of metaphorical use of the expression is the term “Evergreen content” used to describe perennial articles or guides about topics that do not change frequently.
On the Internet, evergreen is a term used by some ad agencies to describe a Web site that is updated on a daily or other frequent basis. A Web site that is evergreen is considered more likely to attract both first-time and repeat visitors.
In magick, evergreens are considered to have a cleansing, and revitalizing power. The aroma of evergreen trees reinvigorates and replenishes psychic and magical energy.
The Death of Tammuz also known as Noosardel (sprinkling water on the path of God) was another Yultide holiday celebrated with an early morning worship service, a tree, and a burning log.
“Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house
which was toward the north; and, behold,
there sat women weeping for Tammuz.”
In the legend, Tammuz dies young and his birth is honored on his birthday which coincided with the Winter Solstice. This was celebrated on or around December 21st. Part of the ritual involved cutting down a young evergreen tree as a way of commemorating the premature death of Tammuz. Along with this, the Babylonians would also burn a Yala (Yule) log, called “the log of the son.” It was burned in the fire to symbolize the death of Tammuz. The next day the evergreen tree would be decorated with silver and gold. The log that was burned was now alive again as the Tammuz tree.
“..for one cutteth a tree out of the forest,
the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax;
They deck it with silver and with gold;
they fasten it with nails and with hammers,
that it move not.”
Found at: Assyrian Voice