All posts tagged: wassail

If like me you are raring to break your new years resolutions and join other likeminded people in the 12th night celebrations of Wassailing then look no further than these delicious events around the UK.

These are the listings that I have been sent from other cider heads, if you know of any others – please add to the comments below. Thank you.

Bristol (Brizzle)

  • Thornbury Wassail Saturday 19th Jan, Featuring the Surfin Turnips an Smokey Bastard. The Barrel, Thornbury, Bristol

Channel Islands

Devon

  • Sandford Orchards 11th January EX17 4LW @ 7pm. Torch, wellies and a pagan desire to drive away hoodoo

Herefordshire

Kent

  • Kent Cider – more details soon Private event – do not attend unless invited by organiser

London

West Sussex

Worcester

  • The Fleece Inn Saturday 12th January @ 6.30pm – Worcester WR11 7JE

Somerset

  • Glastonbury Abbey Friday 11th January – Includes a Wassail ceremony in the Abbey orchard and then the chance to warm up with a cider bar, music from the Mangled Wurzels and a Mummers play from Langport Mummers in the town hall

Having a wassail in your own orchard?

Heres how to get it right! Tips for a successful wassail

We had a great visit to Middle Farm in the middle of January, where we went a Wassailing!

A Wassail is a winter celebration, traditionally held on Old Twelfth Night, to ensure that the orchard is fruitful in the coming months. It was a fantastic clear crisp night, perfect for blessing the fruit trees.

There was of course a great selection of best selling and local ciders and perries. A great programme of indoor and outdoor events, including a Celidh, bonfire, and lots and lots of drumming organised by the Hunter’s Moon Morris men.

Check out a selection of the photos we took of the evening:

Watch a video of the the Wassail group heading to the orchards to light the ceremonial bonfire:

On a winter’s evening in January, usually Old Christmas Eve (January 5), Twelfth night (January 6) or Old Twelfth night (January 17), about 200 townsfolk gather to play witness to a wassail ceremony, which resembles something out of a medieval Shakespearean play from what I’ve seen on the Internet.

“Wassail ceremony is a wonderful assault on winter dulled senses”, explains Norman Stanier, Vice-Chairman of The Big Apple and owner of Dragon Orchard. “It has noise, music, drums, procession, torchlight, fires, cider, roasted pig, songs, acting, and loud noises often of shotguns being fired.”

A wassail King and Queen lead a torch-held procession in song, from orchard to orchard. The wassail was important in the past when part of a labourer’s wage on a farm was paid in cider. Today, farmers who are motivated by superstition and tradition carry on the pagan ceremony.

All gathered around the tree before the fires are lit

After much dancing and singing, noise making and merriment, the evening culminates in gunshots to scare the evil spirits away, and the wassailers head back to the local pub for dancing, cider, and entertainment.

Here’s our pick of the UK’s best Wassail events in 2011:

All will usually provide hot food and drink available and a well stocked cider bar.

Wassail!

Wassailing is an old custom that takes place on Old Twelfth Night (17 January) or thereabouts, to exhort apple trees to fruit well the following season.

Customs and songs differ from place to place. At many events cider is poured onto the roots and shots fired through the branches to ward off evil spirits. Warm cider is drunk and toast soaked in cider is placed in the branches for the robin. Wassail songs are sung. More information on Wassailing at Wikipedia.

Here are the listings for wassail events in 2010:

UK events

Cornwall

Devon

  • Wassail at Saltram Saturday, 16 January 2010. From 6pm until 8pm Plymouth Join the wardens and the Dartington Morris Men at the Saltram orchard to take part in the ancient custom of wassailing. Followed by mulled cider and apple cake. For up-to-date listings please visit nationaltrust.org.uk/events
  • Yarde Orchard Wassail Saturday, January 16th, 2010. From 18:30. Once again we will be holding a traditional orchard wassail which includes ceremony and music around the orchard followed by feasting and dancing in the cafe afterwards. 01805 601778 or e-mail to reserve tickets £8.50 adults £4.50 under 16s.
  • Occombe Orchard Wassailing at Occombe Farm Lantern workshop 3.30 – 4.30 pm; Preparation for procession and refreshments 4.30- 5.30pm. Procession 5.30pm. Cost: £3.50 per lantern.

East Sussex

  • Middle Farm Wassail Saturday 16th January 2010. 6pm onwards The National Collection of Cider & Perry, Middle Farm, West Firle, Lewes, BN8 6LJ. Under the auspices of Hunter’s Moon Morris the farmhouse orchard will be soundly wassailed, with accompanying indoor revelries, involving much music and dancing, drummers, mummers, hot victuals, a bar full of cider (mulled and otherwise) and local ales, and much good company. Free entry.

London

Somerset

  • Wassailing at Rich’s Saturday 16th January 2010. Richs Farmhouse Cider, Mill Farm, Highbridge, Watchfield, TA9 4RD. Tel: 01278 783651. This years Rich’s Cider Farm Wassail will be held in aid of Cystic Fibrosis and will feature the Mangled Wurzels and Fred Bloggs. Tickets £12.50 in advance including Stew and a mug of mulled cider. Bar until midnight. Cancelled due to bad weather – update 13/01/01
  • Wassail at Orchard Barns, Rooksbridge, Somerset. Saturday, January 16 from 6.30pm. Held at Orchard Barns on the A38 in Rooksbridge to ensure a good apple harvest the following year. A cider bar and a barbecue will be on offer and money raised will go to Great Ormond Street Hospital and the village’s Lights for Life charity. Tickets priced £5 and include a cup of mulled cider with bread and cheese and are available from 01934 750255.

Yorkshire

  • Chevin Wildlife Watch Group Wassail Sunday 10th January. Meet at The White House, Johnny Lane, Otley 10am to 12pm Contact Jenny Watts (Parks and Countryside, Ranger, Leeds City Council) on (0113) 237 5320.

Worcestershire

  • Wassail at the Fleece Inn, Saturday 16th January 2010 from 6.30pm. Singing, drinking & Morris dancing. Home mulled Plum Jerkum plus a hearty stew with crusty bread served around 9pm

International events

Canada

USA

We’d love to add more, do you know of any? Let us know and we’ll add it to these listings.

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.