Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Thorn Cutting Ceremony, Glastonbury, 2018

Since the 1920s the people of Glastonbury have sent clippings from their Holy Thorn (Crataegus monogyna ‘Biflora’) to the monarch each Christmas.

Before the local primary schools break up for Christmas a short ceremony is held in St John’s churchyard, during which the eldest child attending St John the Baptist Primary School cuts a twig from the tree for sending to the Queen.

In 2018 this happened on 12 December, starting at 10.30 a.m.  After the children and various officials and dignitaries had assembled, the vicar introduced the proceedings.  A small twig was cut from the thorn tree, and the children sang the Holy Thorn Song before they went into the church to see the festival of Christmas trees.  Despite the presence of the mayor the mayor and her entourage the whole event seemed informal and low-key.

The thorn tree had very few flowers, and appeared to be in a state of decrepitude, being host to several clumps of mistletoe (Viscum album) and many lichens.  The other, younger, thorns in the churchyard appear to have died.

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