In modern times, there is a revival of the tradition of wassailing amongst many of the orchards across our land.
What is wassailing? It is an old custom of blessing the trees and the land to ensure a good harvest in the following Autumn. In modern times we have been conditioned to think that we can simply pop down the supermarket and get any kind of fruit at any time of the year, but in times gone by, we were much more connected to the land; failure of a crop could spell disaster for a local community which depended upon the orchard’s produce.
It seemed appropriate to give thanks for, and bless the trees and surrounding landscape. To do this we sang songs, made loud noises, traditionally to scare away the evil spirits that may lurk in there. We also poured cider into the roots of each tree and put cider soaked toast into the branches of them. Nowadays we know that this helps feed the trees as they prepare to burst forth in bud in the early spring, and attract birds to the trees so that they can also peck off any insects there which may harm the trees. All in, it is allowing the community to bless the land, and in return the land will bless us back.
Afterwards, we drank mulled cider and apple juice, and ate a selection of apple based cakes (including gluten free ones!).
A fun time was had by all, and we all agreed we should do this again in the following year.
Here’s a clip from a similar event held at another orchard in our fair and green land: