Saturday, 15 January 2011


It's that time of year again when the apple trees in the UK are "Wassailed"  a process which is intended to wake the trees from their winter slumber.

Wassailing usually takes place during January on cold frosty nights when groups of people can be found processing to orchards some in silence but many banging on drums, or pots and pans making lots of noise to wake the trees. They also may bring an offering of cider to pour round the roots of the trees. A shotgun may also be fired in to the air to further waken the slumbering trees.

The word wassail derives from the old English words waes and hael meaning be healthy or whole.Both of which survive in modern English as hale and hearty. The trees are serenaded with rhymes and verse an example of which is this one which I wrote for the occasion when we wassailed a friends apple trees.

Figures trudge in single file
through the cold starlit night.
Banging drums and beating sticks
and making merry,
to the orchard they come,
to wassail the magic apple trees.
As they come the warm smell of cider
is on the breeze and shotgun
blasts echo through the night.
"So here's to thee old apple tree
may you afertile be.
Come the spring bedecked in
blossom white.
And in the Autumn be you
laden in fruit
unmarked by blight."
Is the merry toast thats given
to Wassail the tree that
bares the fruit of love.


1 comment:

  1. That is very interesting, I have never heard if it before, thanks for sharing such a wonderful ritual/tradition