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TraditionalBritishFestivals

  • 240px Washing of the Lions April Fools PosterMonday 1st April is April Fool’s Day.  In France, prior to the year 1582, the New Year was celebrated for eight days, starting with the 25th of March, with the festivities culminating on April 1st.

    With the reform of the Christian calendar under King Charles IX, through the influence of Pope Gregory, the Gregorian calendar was introduced, and New Years Day was moved to the first of January. However, due to lack of communications in those days, many people did not receive the news for several years. Furthermore, some obstinate individuals refused to accept the new calendar and continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1st.

    These people were classified as “fools” by the general public and were often subject to some ridicule and were invited to bogus parties; hence, the tradition of April Fool’s Day.

    Apparently, a popular prank throughout the 18th/19th Centuries, involved inviting folks to watch the fictional ceremony of washing the lions, said to take place annually on 1st April.  Initially the ceremony was purported to take place in the moat area, but later versions involved sending prank victims to the non-existent white gate!  The image above shows an admission ticket (from the British Museum) for a hoax 'Washing of the Lions' event supposedly taking place at the Tower of London on Wednesday 1st April, 1857. This image is in the public domain because it predates the Copyright Act of 1956.

    As well as being April Fool’s Day, 1st April was also the joint celebration of Veneralia & Fortuna Virilis in Ancient Rome. Both festivals appear vaguely connected with Venus, whose advice was sought on matters of love and who was honoured on this day.

  • Monday 13th January is Plough Monday in England!  Traditionally Plough Monday (the Monday after Epiphany when The Zoroastrian Magi visited the infant Jesus) is the day for setting aside the remnants and excesses of Christmas and "putting one's hand to the plough"; in other words, starting work on a project of some sort.  

    A traditional delicacy from Norfolk, eaten on Plough Monday, is known as 'Plough Pudding', which is a boiled meat, onions and suet pudding.

    Plough Monday 12th Night ImageIn some areas of the UK, particularly in Northern and East England, traditionally this was the day folk went back to work after the Christmas festivities. There were regional variations in the customs observed on Plough Monday, but commonly a plough would be hauled in a procession from house to house, collecting money. Musicians, such an old woman or a "Bessy" - a boy dressed as an old woman - with a man playing the role of the "fool" would accompany the plough.  

    Image to the right was scanned by Steven J Plunkett (19th century version by Hablot Knight Browne of an earlier "Twelfth Night Merry-Making in Farmer Shakeshaft's Barn", from Ainsworth's Mervyn Clitheroe, by Phiz.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

    Amongst the more bizarre UK traditions, across the Isles of Scilly (off the Cornish Coast), locals would visit their neighbours, cross-dressed, and make jokes about local events. There would be general revelry and dancing in disguise, which became colloquially known as Guise Dancing or Goose Dancing!

    Although Plough Monday customs declined over a hundred years ago, in some areas they are being revived, such as at Malden in Essex where Molly Dancingis carried out.  This seems to have derived from the recent revival by the Cambridge Morris Men,associated with the Whittlesea Straw Festival (held near Peterborough in Camridgeshire) which is also held to honour Plough Monday.

    For those living in Surrey, UK, we have a Healing Share, 7.30-10 pm, Walton-on-Thames, KT12 3BH, £10 (advance) £15 (door). Details here.

    For a list of Joanna's other forthcoming events, including training courses, mini-workshops and Forest Bathing+ Case Studies, see this January 2020 Harmony Healing Event Update. 

    To receive regular Blog updates (always headed with a title detailing the occasion or event so that you can choose whether to open it or not), featuring New and Full Moon, meteor showers, eclipses and other meteorological events, interesting anniversaries, ancient festival dates plus notification of dates of numerological significance, sign up for the Harmony Healing e-newsletters above or at the top of any page of this Harmony Healing website.  The nature of the Blog means that whenever there are several key dates in close succession, there will be frequent mailings. The sender e-mail address is  (and the sender will show as Joanna Bristow-Watkins @ Harmony Healing). You may need add this email to your safe list and check your junk filter initially.

  • 220px Flag of England.svgTuesday 23rd April is St George’s Day in England, celebrating St George, England's patron saint. The anniversary of his death, which is on April 23rd, is seen as England's national day. According to legend, he was a soldier in the Roman army who killed a dragon and saved a princess.  The flag of England is the red Cross of St. George, and this is widely displayed as a symbol of national identity. Surprisingly, 23rd April is not a Bank Holiday.

    William ShakepeareWilliam Shakespeare - long revered as Britain's, if not the world's, best known author and playwright, also died on 23rd April, but in 1616, in Stratford-upon-Avon, making this the 403rd Anniversary. He was Baptised in Stratford on the 26th April 1564 and his birth date is not known but it is traditionally observed on 23rd April, Saint George's Day, indicating that he would have died on his birthday. 

    This date, which can be traced back to an 18th-century scholar's mistake, has proved appealing to biographers, it being considered somewhat poetic that he died on his 42nd birthday. 

    Shakespeare has 37 plays and 154 sonnets credited to him, but we don't really know whether he actually wrote them, or was just a merchant, land owner and occasional actor who either brokered the plays or was prepared to be acknowledged as the author to protect anonymity of those truly responsible.

    Certainly writing plays could be dangerous as any plot seen to reflect a political plot not appreciated by the Queen/King could be interpreted as treason.

    Many scholars argue, quite reasonably, that proof of Shakespeare’s authorship is largely circumstantial and sketchy at best; certainly he was better known in Stratford as a businessman [one documented view is that he brokered the plays] and not a playwright.  

  • Wednesday 29th May is the English Folk Festival of Oak Apple Day; held in honour of oak trees after Charles II escaped from Cromwell’s army by hiding in an oak tree. Oak leaves are worn until midday.

    In May 1660, Oak Apple Day or Royal Oak Day was a declared as a formal public holiday, to be celebrated in England on 29th May to commemorate the restoration of the English Monarchy.

    Although it was formally abolished in 1869, the day is still celebrated Oak applein some parts of the country and is alternatively known as Shick Shack Day. Oak and Nettle Day, Yak Bob Day or Arbour tree Day.  

    The image to the left, taken from the Wikipedia page [By Photographer: Simon Garbutt, via Wikimedia Commons], shows the Garland King and his consort at Castleton, Derbyshire.

    The right hand image, also from Wikipedia [by Bob Embleton (CC BY-SA 2.0), via Wikimedia Commons] shows an Oak Apple from Worcester.

Celestial Forecasts

Forthcoming Events and Workshops

Meet-ups (click on date for details),
Event Stands, talks & workshops:-

Surrey Networking, £10 (advance)
Surrey Therapists 2-hour Meetups
Tuesday 10th February, 7.30-10pm

LONDON Networking, £15- £25
London Therapists 2 hour Meetups
No venue at present, so nothing scheduled

Joanna's Courses & Workshops 
In date order: -

Forest Bathing+ Newlands Corner
10.30-12.30, Free Case Study session
Friday 17th January

Reyad Sekh Em (RSE) - £200
Egyptian Alchemy Healing Level 1 - Intro

Tues 21st January & Tues 11th February

Reyad Sekh Em (RSE) - £450
1 & 2 Practitioner Intensive

Tues 21st - Thurs 23rd January inclusive

Violet Flame of Amenti - £88 (£44 for RSE Graduates) 
Level 1 including attunement
Thursday 30th January

Forest Bathing+ Winkworth Arboretum
10.30-12.30, £22 Session
Saturday 8th February

Forest Bathing+ Winkworth Arboretum
10.30-12.30, £22 Session
Saturday 7th March

Forest Bathing+ Winkworth Arboretum
10.30-12.30, £22 Session
Tuesday 12th May

Khemitology Workshop - cost TBA
College of Psychic Studies (CPS)
10am - 5pm, London Kensington
Saturday 16th May

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