Archive for January, 2018

The ancient tradition of Wassailing

Wassailing is an ancient Pagan ceremony that has been celebrated in the West Country for a Millenium and more. The word “Wassail” comes from old Norse.  It’s a toast and it means “be thou healthy” and the correct response is “Drink Hail”. On Saturday 13th Jan the Holman Clavel pub hosted such a Wassail celebration.

We started by waking the new apple tree. The narrator was Steve Watkins who was resplendent in his top hat. We lit flaming wax torches and circled anti-clockwise (known as Widdershins), making as much noise as possible and singing “Here we come a wassailing”.

The next stage was to name the tree. So we took the first name of the youngest person present, Harper, and the last name of the oldest person, Morrow, and that became the name of the tree.

A young girl was the Wassail Queen and her duty was to place cider-soaked toast in the branches of the tree, to tempt good spirits to dwell there, whilst we all sang another song “Oh Apple Tree, we’ll wassail thee”.

Lastly the oldest person present poured cider from a wassail cup onto the roots of the tree whilst all the crowd recited

“Apples now,

Hat-fulls, cap-fulls

Three bushel bag-fulls

and a little heap under the stairs”

Wassailers repeated these words 3 times, getting louder and louder.

People then disbursed into the pub or around the brazier with mulled cider and the wassailing was over. A bit of madness? Maybe, but after all it’s tradition!!


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