Christmas Glastonbury Thorn legend ties in Christ’s death as well as the celebration of his birth. Not surprisingly, they were seen as holy thorns. In the Civil Wars of the 17th century Puritan soldiers cut down the only remaining thorn because they saw it as an object of superstition. However, local people had kept cuttings, and it is from these that the thorn now growing in the abbey grounds is believed to descend.
The Holy Thorn is very much revered by many people for many reasons. Some see it as an ancient symbol of Christian beliefs and a tangible presence from the distant past carrying a message for the present and the future. It continues to flower around Easter and again at Christmas.
Until recently, the Glastonbury Holy Thorn, famous for its Christmas blossom, stood in front of St John the Baptist’s Church in the centre of the Somerset town. Several times the vicar of Glastonbury had sent blossoms to the Queen at Christmas time.
Unfortunately, as with most stories surrounding Glastonbury, a mass of genuinely ancient tradition, modern myth, and fiction has become entangled with the real history of Glastonbury, so that sifting the truth from the legend is an almost impossible task. Nevertheless, the story of Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury is almost certainly a legend designed to bring prestige to the Abbey.