Today (5th December) welcomes the new Oak Moon. For the Celts this moon heralded the end of their 13 moon lunar cycle and personified strength, stamina, life, death and rebirth. The oak was sacred to the Celtic Druids as many of their ceremonies were carried out beneath oak lined groves and it was also the sacred tree of Jupiter, Zeus, and Thor.
Often struck and split by lightning, it is actually thought to protect those who shelter beneath it from the same fate. To the ancient Greeks the rustling of the leaves were thought to be the voice of the Gods, whilst to the Irish, the oak was one of seven 'noble' trees, often referred to as 'Jove's tree'.
After the battle of Worcester in 1651, Charles 11 hid in the Boscobel oak tree when escaping from his parliamentarian enemies. In celebration of his restoration to the English throne, May 29th was known as 'Oak Apple Day' in honour of the tree that had saved his life. It became a public holiday for many years when everyone was expected to wear an oak leaf out of respect. Many pubs were subsequently named the 'Royal Oak' and still carry the name today.