Folklore and fairy lights
This year as part of our Winter Light programme, we asked 18 local schools to make and decorate willow lanterns inspired by English folklore. You can even vote for which one you like best!
The theme of the trail along Miss Alice’s Drive is inspired by a traditional English folk tale, the ‘Battle of the Oak and Holly Kings’. The myth is based on a pagan tradition, and represents the Summer and Winter solstices – the concept of light and dark; of birth, death and rebirth. The Oak King and the Holly King are two aspects of the same being. The Oak King is the God of Summer and battles the Holly King for rulership in the winter. Likewise, the Holly King represents Winter and battles the Oak King at Midsummer.
The Ancient Celts who lived in Britain honoured the forces of nature and believed the world was inhabited by spirits. They considered the deities to live among them, usually in natural features, such as rivers, mountains and forests. They also saw animals as messengers of the gods and some held distinctive characteristics held important to the Celts. For instance, stags or horses could be admired for their beauty and speed. Dogs were viewed as keen-scented, good at hunting, guarding and healing themselves. Snakes were seen to be a symbol of long or possibly eternal life, being able to shed their skin and renew themselves. Deer suggested cycles of growth, as they shed their antlers.
To celebrate these folk traditions, each school has been given a native species of animal that has lived or still lives in England and is sacred in English folklore, from badgers to robins. In keeping with the theme of nature, light artist Anna Whetstone has created ‘From Little Acorns Mighty Oaks Do Grow’, a striking archway featuring 500 metal oak leaves that are engraved with names, ages and hopes for the future from children who attended Feast in June. This archway marks the beginning of the trail.
Look out for these animals, and the schools that made them on the trail:
Adder – East Claydon School
Badger – Chalfont St Giles Primary School, Acer and Palm classes
Boar – Prestwood Infant School, ‘Ready, Steady…Art!’ group
Deer – Stony Dean School, 9B class
Fox – Little Missenden CE Infant School, Year 1 and Year 2
Hare – Ashfold School, Pre-Prep II (Reception)
Hedgehog – Swanbourne House School, Year 2
Horse – Stocklake Park
Mouse – Furze Down School, V2 and V3 classes
Otter – Berryfields CE School, Year 1
Owl – Bearbrook Combined School, Sparkle Room
Raven – Maids Moreton CE School, Reception
Red Kite – St Louis Catholic Primary School, Year 1
Robin – Ibstone CE Primary School, Ladybird, Woodland and Kestrel classes
Salmon – Harding House
Squirrel – Cheddington School, Year 2
Wolf – Five Acres Primary School, Year 1
Remember to vote for your favourite lantern on Facebook! The photo with the most likes at the end of the Christmas season will be the winner and the school will receive a trophy.