Like most nations, England celebrates the season of spring with a variety of festivals, holidays, get-togethers, and more. They range from fun to serious affairs, offering their citizens plenty of ways to honor this beautiful time of year. Let’s take a dive into some of some of the more popular, and unique, celebrations!
Undoubtedly the most well-known seasonal celebration in England, May Day began during the pagan Anglo-Saxon period of England. As the holiday was initially rooted in agriculture as springtime creates a welcoming environment for crops, livestock, homes, and people were adorned with a variety of wildflowers in honor of the blooming season. A Maypole could be seen in every village that celebrated, a live tree that people danced and sang around. This tradition remained largely popular until the 1960s and ’70s, when interest waned. Schools still use a Maypole to celebrate, and you can see students elementary through college honoring this tradition. People are also inclined to make a “May Basket,” which is a paper basket or cone that is filled with flowers and candy and left on a loved one’s doorstep!
Jack In The Green
Generally associated with the May Day festival, Jack In The Green (also known as Jack o’ The Green) is an English folk custom. A large frame is built and covered in flowers and foliage, and often topped with a crown. An individual known as “The Jack” then wears this frame and parades through the streets, accompanied by musicians and “Morris Dancers.” This celebration started in the 17th century and participating towns and cities try to outdo one another with the intricacy of the garlands on their frames. This tradition is still alive today, and the most famous celebration is in Hastings.
Oak Apple Day
Also commonly known as Restoration Day, Oak Apple Day was a public holiday until 1859 when it was abolished due to religious reasons. While initially honoring the restoration of the English Monarchy in 1660, modern celebrations hold reenactments, create a procession from the pub to their local church with a brass band (where attendees are holding flowers and Oak Sticks), hold a mass, and more. Household celebrations often proceed the mass. The village of St. Neot holds the most popular version of this holiday today, where the local Vicar leads the procession through the town.
This is just a taste of the wonderful world of English springtime holidays. We hope you enjoyed learning about these wonderful celebrations and look forward to teaching you more in the future!
About the Author
Shane Frasier is the Marketing & Communications Coordinator at the Museum. He’s been with us since 2017, and enjoys our mission of bringing diversity and culture to the greater Glens Falls area.