Had enormous fun last night when we went wassailing over at Colwall village, just in the lee of the Malvern Hills. This was our first time here – we usually attend the Weston’s Cider Wassail – and I’d like to thank the Colwall Orchard Group for organising such an excellent event.
Wassailing is a traditional—actually pagan, probably Anglo Saxon—English midwinter festival which is celebrated to awake the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn. It’s also thought to be the origin of Christmas Carol-ing.
Although it’s a very ancient custom, and enjoying a resurgence especially amongst the younger folk, wassailing is really only celebrated in the cider apple growing counties, and the wider English public is not generally familiar with it. Which is a pity, because not only is it a great traditional English antidote to the commercialisation of Christmas, it’s also a really good excuse to get out on a cold Saturday night, eat, drink hot spiced cider, make lots of noise, meet nice people, wear silly hats, process down lanes holding flaming torches and generally have fun. It also raises lots of money for charity.
So if you’re in Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, or Dorset next midwinter, try and attend a wassailing. You wont regret it, and you’ll keep the cider apples healthy!
I had intended to illustrate this with my own photos from last night, but I’m afraid they weren’t really good enough, so I’ve included a video from last year’s Colwall event which will give you a flavour of what goes on. Also, for a good explanation about wassailing, see here.
Waes Hael ! ( Good Health! )