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Updated: Jan 17


It's that time of year for Wassailing 🙂

The purpose of wassailing is to awake the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits (or appease the good ones who still reside there) to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the following autumn.

Traditionally, the wassail is celebrated on Twelfth Night (variously on either January 5 or 6). Some people still wassail on "Old Twelvey Night", January 17, as it would have been before the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752.

Wassailing Wessex Hampshire
The wassailing, or blessing of the fruit trees, involves drinking and singing to the health of the trees in the hope that they will provide a bountiful harvest

"The word “wassail” comes from the Middle English toast, “waes hael”, meaning “be thou hale”, which in turn means “be in good health”. The phrase, “waes hael” dates back to pre-Norman times, so if you do decide to get outside and try a quick wassail, you’ll be following a time-honoured tradition.

If someone says “waes hael” to you, with or without warning, the appropriate answer is “drinc hael”, which certainly suits most people’s pre-Christmas social activities well enough."

“Wassail! Drink ale!”

Wassaile the trees, that they may bear

You many a plum, and many a peare:

For more or lesses fruits they will bring

As you doe give them wassailing.

Wassailing is a pagan fertility rite carried out on Fruit Trees to awaken them and has been carried out celebrated in England for many hundreds of years, if not far longer...

One of the first fertility festivals of the Pagan/Folk calendar, a ceremony intended to begin the process of waking the fruit trees from their winter slumber.

"Old apple tree we wassail thee And hoping thou will bear For the Lord doth know where we shall be'Til apples come another year

For to bear well and to bloom well So merry let us be Let every man take off his hat And shout to the old apple tree

Old apple tree we wassail thee And hoping thou will bear Hat fulls, cap fulls, three bushel bag fulls And a little heap under the stairs"





‘wassailing’ from the Oxford Dictionary of ‘English Folklore’

[there are two customs] The first is a ‘house-visiting’ custom, wishing health to neighbours, and the other is what could be termed a ‘field-visiting’ custom, wishing health to, usually, fruit trees, but also sometimes other farm crops, animals and so on. The proper day for wassailing varied from place to place, but was always mid-winter, at Christmas or New Year, and the name also varies considerably, including vessel-cup, waysailing, and howling.

The Wassailing Song.

Wassail, wassail, all over the town,

Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown

Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree,

With the wassailing bowl we’ll drink to thee,

Drink to thee, drink to thee,

With the wassailing bowl we’ll drink to thee.

And another...

Old Apple tree, we wassail thee,

And hope that thou will bare

Hatfuls, capfuls, and three bushel bagfuls

A little heap under the stairs.

Three cheers for the apple tree.

Hip hip horray!

Hip hip horray!

Hip hip horray!

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