350 years ago on 29th May 1660, Charles 11 returned triumphant to the British throne and with him came many of the old traditions that had been previously banned by the Puritans under the rule of Cromwell.
To celebrate his reinstatement Maypoles were erected accompanied by much merriment including dancing and bawdy songs, in fact much of what we now associate with May Day was carried out at the end rather than the beginning of the month, however the occasion was known as 'Oak Apple Day'.
It became traditional to wear an oak leaf in honour of the fact that when Charles escaped his enemies some 11 years earlier on his way to France, he hid in various oak trees throughout England. This image of the King surrounded by oak leaves became an acceptable form of the Green Man and many pubs were named either, 'The Green Man' or The Black Boy' (as Charles had a dusky complexion) in honour of his reinstatement.
In some parts of the country the day was called 'Oak Apple and Nettle day' for anyone who refused to wear the oak leaf was painfully beaten with nettles. Young men would climb the steeples of churches and hang up boughs of oak , whilst horses harnesses were decorated with oak. In the 1900's railway engines were also decorated and the tradition only died out with the coming of the Second World War.
Perhaps this is something we could begin to reinstate in honour of Charles bringing back traditions which otherwise would be lost. Happy Oak Apple Day!