‘Here’s to thee, old apple-tree…’
The custom of wassailing dates back to pre-Christian times. The word ‘wassail’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘waes hael, and means ‘be well’ or ‘be in good health’.
The purpose of blessing the apple trees in an orchard is to provide a bountiful harvest of fruit in the autumn.
Celebrations generally take place on or around Twelfth Night. Those gathered make an awesome racket to awaken the trees and scare away evil spirits. There is much singing and shouting with the banging of pots and pans and cider is poured onto the trees.
There were more people this year, including lots of young families with children. So much so that there was little room to spare in the space around the wassail tree. With the blessing done and a terrible racket made it was time to tie ribbons on another tree. You make a wish for the coming year as you tie your ribbon. It’s difficult to take photographs when everyone scrambles towards the tree. In the past I’ve taken my ‘big’ camera but this time took my ‘little’ Sony. It’s more discreet and I can get closer without having a big camera bashed into. The main part of the action is all over fairly quickly so you have to work fast. When it’s all over its time to head off home and eat cake from the cake stall.