Apple Day, Royal Oak Day or Restoration Day is celebrated next week on 29th May. It is a traditional English celebration of the the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, following the death of Oliver Cromwell.
The origins of Royal Oak Day
The future King Charles II hid from his Roundhead pursuers in the Royal Oak, English oak tree, in Boscobel Wood after the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Nine years later, the restored Charles II rode triumphantly into London on his birthday, 29th May, to take his place on the throne. From 1660, the Restoration was celebrated as a national holiday, until the Victorians abolished it in 1859.
Oak Apple Day or Royal Oak Day
The oak was the symbol of Royalist sympathisers and, each year on 29th May, known as Oak Apple Day or Royal Oak Day, it became customary for subjects to show support for their king by wearing a sprig of oak leaves or an oak apple. Some ardent Royalists even went so far as to cover their oak leaves with gold leaf.
How to celebrate Oak Apple Day or Royal Oak Day
The day was full of celebrations, with villages maintaining their own individual traditions including Maypole dancing, Morris dancing and feasting. There are plenty of magnificent oak trees around where we live, and of course there are lots of pubs called The Royal Oak due to its association with Charles II.
Sadly the day was abolished by the Victorians who wanted to get rid of any public holidays which had become more associated with drunken behaviour than the spirit in which it was founded. I’m all for bringing this public holiday back, although May is already a pretty good month for Bank Holidays.
In the spirit of celebrating Royal Oak Day, we decided to see how many oak trees we could see where we live. The good news was there are hundreds of beautiful old oak trees. As you know we’ve been enjoying identifying trees on our daily walks (using a brilliant app from the Woodland Trust). My 8 year old enjoys using the app and decided to pick up fallen leaves to make leaf rubbings and a little book of leaves.
Leaf rubbings are so simple but fun. All you need is a sheet of plain paper and a pencil. Place the paper over a leaf on a flat surface. Carefully rub the leaf with the pencil until you see the outline of the leaf. We filled a sheet of A4 with different leaves and used colouring pencils to make a lovely picture. We also created a little book from a sheet of A4 paper, with a different page for each leaf.
Have you ever tried leaf rubbing before? It makes for a great activity for younger children.