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Queen to receive cutting from the Holy Thorn

By Central Somerset Gazette  |  Posted: December 12, 2013

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A ROYAL ceremony which began 400 years ago will take place tomorrow.

Each December, the eldest pupil of St John's Infant School joins the Mayor of Glastonbury for the cutting of the Holy Thorn.

According to the folklore of the town, when Joseph of Arimathea first stepped foot on Glastonbury soil at Wearyall Hill his staff took root in the ground and sprouted the first Holy Thorn.

The tree flourished and over the centuries, graftings were taken from the various trees to ensure the Holy Thorn's survival, even after it was cut down by Cromwellian troops.

Many believe it is a miracle that the tree flowers twice a year, including at Christmas, and it is said since the reign of King James I a cutting has been taken annually and forwarded to the monarch to adorn the festive table.

The old custom of sending blooms to the monarch had been stopped by Charles I, but was revived in 1922 when Queen Mary agreed to receive a sample each time the Holy Thorn lived up to its reputation. Each year a sprig is still sent to the Queen as a festive gift.

How much of the story of Glastonbury's Holy Thorn is fact and how much is just myth will probably never be known, but according to the many who attend the annual cutting of the tree, the tradition adds a special something to the town's festivities.

The ceremony will be on Friday December 13, at 10.30am, with the mayor of Glastonbury, Councillor Sue Thurgood, helping the lucky child to snip that branch that will adorn the Queen's table this Christmas. All are welcome.

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