Singing to apple trees to encourage a bountiful harvest is making a comeback. Look out for a wassail in an orchard or allotment near you
For many of us, Twelfth Night signifies little more than the deadline for taking down the Christmas decorations. For others, however, it’s an occasion to pull on the wellies, head out into the cold and wake the fruit trees from their winter slumber through songs, offerings and some cider-fuelled revelry. In orchards and allotments across the country, the ancient tradition of wassailing is making an unexpected comeback.
Hold your own wassail
Traditionally, the wassail takes place on Twelfth Night – either 5, 6 or 17* January, but modern versions can take place at any point between these dates.
A back garden can work just as well as an orchard.
Torches, wellies and warm coats are a must.
Involve the kids. Deck them out with face paint, feathers and foliage and they can lead the parade as the wassail King or Queen.
Ensure there’s a generous supply of mulled cider as well as juice for little ones, and encourage participants to bring snacks, such as home-baked apple muffins, to share with the group.
Drive out evil spirits by banging pots and pans together before serenading the tree with a wassail song.
* 17 January is Twelfth Night, or ‘Old Twelvey’, following the pre-Gregorian calendar.
More on Wassails in the January issue - turn to page 116.