Welcome to Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club!
This month we are celebrating Oak Apple Day on the 29th of May.
Oak Apple Day, also known as Royal Oak Day, celebrates the restoration of Charles II to the British throne. Its name derives from the story of his escape from the Roundheads after the battle of Worcester. In order to evade his pursuers, he hid in an oak tree and legend has it that whilst hiding in the tree, he had to be pinched by his companions in order to stay awake. This led to yet another name for the festival: Pinch-Bum Day!
Although Charles’ escape happened on the 4th of September, all these traditions and tales were rolled into the celebration of his restoration, which parliament declared as a day of national thanksgiving in 1660. Prior to the restoration, the ruling Puritans had forbidden many of the traditional spring-to-summer festivities, such as May Day, and the newly-revived customs also became part of Oak Apple Day. Morris dancing, flower-garlanded sticks to welcome in the summer, and the collection of hawthorn blossom all happened on Oak Apple Day, and beer and plum pudding were on the menu.
The Royalist badge is a sprig of Oak. Not only were oak leaves and oak apples pinned to lapels, but houses and public buildings were decorated with oak. A typical children’s game was to challenge one’s companion to show their royalist token, and if found not to be wearing one then there would be penalties, and the name Pinch-Bum Day suddenly becomes clear!
This month’s rolags are inspired by the hawthorn blossoms that were collected on Oak Apple Day, and by the apple and cherry blossom that abounds at this time of year. Setting the Twist has treated us to a handspun mini skein in “Oak Leaf”, and there are oak leaf stitch markers from me and a rather beautiful treat from Sour Cream and Chive.
In this box you should find:
- The story of Oak Apple Day
- 20g of rolags in “Hawthorn” – 60% Masham, 15% Tussah Silk, 15% Seacell, 10% Merino, with added pink and black angelina.
- 10g of rolags in “Blossom” – 60% Merino, 30% Mulberry Silk, 10% Merino and some angelina.
- A handspun mini skein in “Oak Leaf” by Setting The Twist
- Tea in Wild Apple and Hawthorn blends
- Oak leaf stitch markers
- A recipe for plum duff
- An acorn necklace from Sour Cream and Chive
Recipe: Plum Duff
This is a traditional boiled pudding, wrapped in cloth and tied with string. It was also known as “Baby’s Bum” thanks to the mark left on the pudding from that string, which does seem an appropriate name given the festival.
- 100g fresh breadcrumbs
- 100g plain flour, sifted
- 100g grated suet
- 100g brown sugar
- 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
- 100g dried mixed fruit
- 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
- Milk, to mix
- Golden syrup and cream to serve.
- Toss the grated suet in 50g of the flour.
- Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Add enough milk to make a stiff dough.
- Sprinkle a clean pudding cloth or tea towel with flour and shape the dough into a thick roll. Place the roll onto the cloth, leaving a pleat of material at either end. Roll up the cloth around the pudding. Tie with string at each end, and loosely around the centre. Place the pudding into a pan of boiling water and boul for 1.5 hours, topping up the boiling water as necessary.
- Lift the pudding out of the pan, cut the string, remove the cloth and turn out onto a warm dish. Pour over a little warmed golden syrup and serve with the cream.
Reference: Cattern Cakes and Lace by Julia Jones and Barbara Deer, Dorling Kindersley 1987.