Come Wassail Away

Used to be, when I thought of wassailing, I’d picture Christmas carolers in full Victorian-era costume, going door-to-door to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  But in reality, as I’ve come to learn, wassailing is a centuries-old English tradition, with one form that’s deeply-rooted in apple trees.

Apple Wassailing dates back to the 16th century, though some may believe the tradition began as a Pagan ritual. This type of wassailing is to pay homage to apple trees and scare off the evil spirits so that the trees may bear lots of tasty apples during the harvest.  Apple Wassailing is usually practiced during “Twelfth Night” though there’s a lot of confusion as to when “Twelfth Night” actually occurs.  Wikipedia tells us that “it is defined by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary as ‘the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking.’  So, for the sake of argument, we’ll go with the first week in January.

Sounds intriguing?  Then you’ll be happy to know that the Wallingford Morris Troupe, known as the Sound and Fury Morris, will be performing an Apple Wassailing this Saturday, at 11:30 a.m. at Meridian Park.

Reader Kimberly C. (who happens to be Sound and Fury Morris’ “Mastermind, Manager, and Mother to two ‘Morris Minors'” writes):

The Sound and Fury Morris dancers invite you to honor the fruit trees of Meridian Playfield with a traditional English Wassail. The dancers will lead all well-wishers in a toast to the good health of the apples trees so that they will bear much fruit in the coming year. The toast will include: songs, dance performance, making lots of noise to scare off the bad spirits, placing cider soaked bread in the trees for the birds, and sharing apple cider and cake. What better way to extend your holiday cheer to Mother Nature than joining in this fun tradition which dates back hundreds of years? Please join in this free celebration!

We will gather near the picnic tables at 11:30 on Saturday January 8th at Meridian Playfield in Wallingford.

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