Twelfth Night & Christmas Trees

Sunday was the 6th January, Twelfth Night, when you should have been taking down your Christmas decorations, as well as celebrating Epiphany, the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to the infant Jesus.

I left Linda to take down our tree (it goes back in the garden for next year, though we do have a couple of 30 footers that grew too big to bring back in the house) and went to Bankside in Southwark, where the Lions Part put on an annual performance for Twelfth Night, based on traditional celebrations with a largely pagan root. These included a splendid ‘Holly Man’ who arrived by river, considerable wassailing, and a performance by the Bankside Mummers with ‘St George’, sword fights and much more.

The Holly Man arrives

Cakes were distributed and eaten, and the lucky recipients of the two that contained a pea and a bean became king and queen for the day, leading the procession to the George Inn for further festivities.

The King and Queen with crown, orb and sceptre.

More pictures on My London Diary.

Photographing discarded Christmas Trees isn’t an original idea – I certainly remember some of my friends doing it many years ago, but Peter Marlow I think did a rather nice job in 2004 in his ‘ The lost Christmas trees of Clerkenwell’ as the Magnum blog reminds me. (You can see a set of 24 on the Magnum main site.)

Its nice to see something made of the kind of photographic material that is on virtually everyone’s doorstep. You don’t need special facilities, overseas travel, etc to make some interesting work. I think it was the great Alfred Stieglitz who said something like the best pictures being found within 25 yards of one’s garden gate.

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