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Orange And Lemons Day – March 16, 2023

Oranges and Lemons Day is celebrated across London on the third Thursday in March each year. This year, it takes place on March 16. The day is observed with the most fervor at St. Clement Danes Church in London, the U.K. In 1919, Reverend William Pennington-Bickford had the church’s bells restored. The bells would play the tune to ‘Oranges and Lemons,’ a nursery rhyme and song about the bells of churches in and around London. The song goes like this, “Oranges and lemons/Say the bells of St. Clements.” Today is Oranges And Lemons Day with people feasting on these citrus fruits and sharing them with their friends.

History of Orange And Lemons Day

On March 31, 1920, the bells of St. Clement Danes church were blessed and garlanded with oranges and lemons. A special service was held and children were given an orange and a lemon. The handing out of oranges and lemons is actually an ancient custom. Years ago, oranges and lemons were transported to Clare Market after arriving in London by a barge on the Thames. Porters and attendants would hand out oranges and lemons to residents.

Since 1919, children and churchmen have played the song on handbells too. In 1921, more than 600 children attended the event. Three years later, 800 children took part! This service was broadcast to the nation and Oranges And Lemons Day became a national celebration. In 1941, the St. Clement Danes church was bombed as part of Germany’s Blitz. The church’s ten bells fell. Just after wartime, these bells were stored and remade.

Despite the destruction, Oranges and Lemons Day continued. In 1944, oranges were handed out to children but there were no lemons on account of war rationing! Only 30 children received the fruit since the war had made the situation so precarious. The church was rebuilt in 1957 and reconsecrated in 1958. Oranges and Lemons Day was back to being celebrated indoors in 1959. For many years the day was held on March 31, but now it is held on the third Thursday in March. Oranges And Lemons Day has a long, dramatic history that continues to flourish today despite everything.

Orange And Lemons Day timeline

Seven Million Years Ago
The Emergence

Citrus fruit emerges for the first time.

18th Century
Europe Gets a Taste

Mandarins are introduced to Europe.

1821
Europe Starts Exporting

Spanish orange groves are exported to the U.S.

1889
Refrigeration Begins

Refrigeration allows citrus fruits to be traded over long distances.

Orange And Lemons Day FAQs

What is the “Oranges and Lemons” game?

In the game “Oranges and Lemons,” two kids, one representing an orange and the other a lemon, stretch out their hands to form an arch by which other kids can move.

Where did ‘Oranges and Lemons’ come from?

‘Oranges and Lemons’ is a traditional English nursery rhyme, folksong, and singing game that refers to the bells of several churches, all within or close to the City of London.

What does the song ‘Oranges and Lemons’ symbolize?

The song reminds people of family and it is also a sign of strength and hope.

Orange And Lemons Day Activities

  1. Eat oranges and lemons

    Celebrate Oranges and Lemons Day by feasting on these fruits. Try new recipes using these fruits. Incorporate them into your meals. Get your daily dose of vitamin C by having your favorite citrus fruits today.

  2. Get the children involved

    The traditions of Oranges and Lemons Day demand that lemons and oranges be distributed to children today. Why not celebrate the day by handing out these fruits to children around you and introducing them to this wonderful holiday?

  3. Sing the song

    Oranges and Lemons Day has its root in the song by the same name. A fun way to celebrate Oranges and Lemons Day is by singing the song and discovering the various versions of it.

5 Interesting Facts About Citrus Fruits

  1. Christopher Columbus traded them

    He introduced the New World to citrus fruits in 1493.

  2. Lemons have beauty benefits

    It is used to heal chapped lips, remove blackheads, whiten teeth, and more.

  3. Lemons slow down aging

    That’s due to high quantities of antioxidants.

  4. Green lemons aren’t always unripe

    Lemons turn yellow from green based on temperature, not ripeness.

  5. Citrus peel has a technical name

    It’s called pericarp.

Why We Love Orange And Lemons Day

  1. It has a long tradition

    Oranges and Lemons Day goes back more than a hundred years. Every year the day was celebrated, even during the horrors of the Second World War. We continue to celebrate Orange and Lemons Day in honor of this age-old tradition.

  2. A day for children

    The focus of Oranges and Lemons Day celebrations is children. They look forward to this day and wait for it all year long. It’s a joyous celebration where children are handed out oranges and lemons.

  3. It is fun

    The best thing about Oranges and Lemons Day is how fun it is! Celebrate the day by doing something as simple as eating the fruits and singing the song. This is a celebration for everyone.

Orange And Lemons Day dates

YearDateDay
2022March 17Thursday
2023March 16Thursday
2024March 21Thursday
2025March 20Thursday
2026March 19Thursday

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