Wassailing is so ancient that putting a date on when it began has been lost in time.

Wassailing however has given birth to other customs such as carol singing, and wishing others good health when drinking.

The main purpose of wassailing is to perform a ceremony to protect the trees from evil and to make them bear a plentiful fruit crop in the coming year. The event involves lots of cider, singing, dancing and celebrating trees in orchards on the 12th night.

How to wassail your apple trees

The assembled company surround a tree and toasted bread, soaked in cider, is placed in the branches of the tree (supposedly for the robins). Cider is then poured into the roots of the tree.

Everyone sings to the tree:

Old apple tree we wassail thee and hoping thou wilt bear
For the Lord doth know where we may be ‘til apples another year
For to bloom well and to bear well so merry let us be
Let everyone take up their cup and drink to the old apple tree

Then everyone calls out to the tree:

Old apple tree we wassail thee and hoping thou wilt bear
Hatfuls, capfuls, three bushel bagfuls and a little heap under the stairs
Hip hi hooray!

Then a great noise is made, customarily with shotguns being fired through the branches of the tree. The wassail ceremony is very simple and short but feel free to add your own variations.

There’s a great seasonal recipe for making Mulled Cider ideal for your wassail here.

More information on what happens at a Cider Wassail on the Daily Telegraph site, and at the National Association of Cider Makers.

Visit our events page for Cider events near you.

  • Martin Horler

    Thank you for including Kilmersdon Wassail in your Wassail events I’m getting phone calls from people who have seen it on the website but they had to do some detective work to find my phone number which is 01761 437372.
    To answer the FAQ our event is FREE apart form buying a ploughman’s lunch if you want to ….. everyone is welcome