I met Wayne and Sue at the Hastings traditional Jack-in-the-Green and they sent me some great details about Oak Apple day also known as Royal Oak Day, Shick Shack Day and Nettling Day on May 29th
This celebrates the day that Charles II rode into London on 29th May 1660 (his birthday) and restored the monarchy to England. People celebrated this day with great celebrations and bonfires. The oak tree became a symbol for the day being the tree that the King hid in after his defeat at the battle of Worcester in September 1651. The day also seems to have been a great excuse to spread the traditional May Day celebrations further into May and in some cases move the traditions to this day completely. Houses and Churches were decorated with oak boughs, maypoles were danced around and sprigs of oak leaves (often with galls otherwise known as oak apples attached) were worn on hats and clothing. Those daring not to wear a sprig of oak were open to being pinched, punched, kicked and even attacked with bunches of nettles! The traditions changed over the years until at one point oak leaves were worn in the mornings and ash leaves in the afternoons and plough horses bridles were decorated with both ash and oak leaves.
In the Derbyshire village of Castleton on May 29th a garland is still constructed and placed over the head and body of a man who rides around the town bearing it on horseback. The man is known as the King and is accompanied by his Queen and morris dancers all in white. At the end of the procession the garland is hoisted to the top of the church tower where it stays until the flowers die. The garland may be a forerunner of the later (and now current) tradition of the Jack-in-the-Green.
When he began carving, COTGM member Mick Waterhouse turned to churches to find what he considered the finest of the craft to study and copy. It was there that he came across the archetypal “Green Man” image that has appeared in architecture and decoration through the ages.
This Image, the combination of foliage with faces and the human form, runs through much of his work and expresses his feelings on the significance of man’s influence on and place in the organic cycle, as well as hinting at an ancient mystecism that medieval craftsmen left in their work.
Mick works in locally found timbers, especially Oak, which he finds lends itself to the “tooled” finish he prefers. You can see more of Mick’s work on our flickr site or at: http://www.sculptureatbicester.org.uk/MickWaterhousePersonalPage.html
I am born on May Morning by sticks, bells, and ribbons
I am the sap in the dark root
I am the dancer with his six fools
I am the tump behind the old church
I am the lost soul under the misericord
I am the oak against the stars
I am the face that peers through the leaves
I am the fear in a childs mind
I am the demon on the roof-boss
I am killed in October and laid on church altars
I am the guiser on the bright bonfire
I am the old grain sown with the seed
I am the flame in the pumpkins grin
I am the spirit in the kern-baby’s bosom
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