Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Happy Oak Apple Day!

It was on this day that a young royal climbed into an oak tree to avoid his pursuers. Young Charles (later King Charles II) was running from Cromwell and his followers after his defeat in a battle. His father, King Charles I had been executed earlier and Cromwell had become a dictator. Even though Scotland named the young Charles as successor to the crown, England had other thoughts and declared such proclamations as unlawful.

Living in France and other countries in exile, following the death of Cromwell in 1658, Charles returned to England in 1660 and took his rightful place on the throne. To celebrate his birthday and the restoration of the crown (and his initial escape from death), May 29 became known as Oak Apple Day.

Everyone knows oak trees don't produce apples. (Right?) However, they do produce what is known as a gall. Galls are actually an irregular type of growth caused by the reaction between plant hormones and  growth regulating chemicals produced by some insects, particularly wasps. The galls provide nourishment for the developing baby wasps, and they resemble, loosely, an apple.

The holiday was abolished, but that doesn't mean you can't find a way to celebrate. Okay, maybe you aren't subject to the British crown, but what does that matter? There is always a reason to celebrate, and this one is an example of that.

So, what can you do today?

Plant an oak tree. (Duh.)

Make crafts with acorns. If you have or live near an oak tree, there will be an abundance, always, and all you have to do is collect them. You can find ideas here, here and here.

Pick up all the fallen branches and collect them for firewood. They are perfect if you have a fire pit!

Play up the Green Man (wild man of the woods) motif by making leaf covered masks and headdresses. You can find directions for one here.

Eat an apple. No, not an oak apple. A regular, old fashioned, honest to goodness apple. Eat them all year long. They're good for you.

Hug an oak tree. Heck, hug any tree. The important thing to remember here is that trees are the lungs of the world, so take care of them.

You can probably come up with a whole host of things to do involving trees, so just get yourself outside and do it! Enjoy the weather before it gets too hot!

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