10th January 2015

Wytchwood Morris hosted their 3rd Annual Wassail on Saturday January 10th 2015 in Bewdley Museum Gardens , Worcestershire.

In the weeks running up to the Wassail some of the Side visited local Schools and held workshops for children, teaching them 2 simple dances and our own Wassail song to perform at the Wassail ceremony.

What is Wassailing?

Wassailing is becoming increasingly popular again in England as a way of throwing off those January Blues.
In the cider-producing counties in the South West of England (primarily Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire) or South East England (Kent, Sussex, Essex and Suffolk) wassailing refers to a traditional ceremony that involves singing and drinking the health of trees on or around Twelfth Night in the hopes that they might better thrive. The purpose of wassailing is to awaken the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn.
A folktale from Somerset reflecting this custom tells of the "Apple Tree Man", the spirit of the oldest apple tree in an orchard, and in whom the fertility of the orchard is said to reside. In the tale a man offers his last mug of mulled cider to the trees in his orchard and is rewarded by the Apple Tree Man who reveals to him the location of buried treasure.

The word 'Wassail' (Old Norse "ves heil", Old English was hál, literally 'be you healthy') refers both to the salute 'Waes Hail' and to the drink of wassail, a hot mulled cider traditionally drunk as an integral part of wassailing, a medieval southern English drinking ritual intended to ensure a good cider apple harvest the following year. The phrase found first use as a simple greeting, but the Danish-speaking inhabitants of England seem to have turned "was hail", and the reply "drink hail", into a drinking formula adopted widely by the indigenous population of England

A Traditional Wassail poem:

Old apple tree, we wassail thee,
And hoping thou wilt bear
For the Lord doth know where we shall be
Till apples come another year.

For to bear well, and to bear well
So merry let us be.
Let every man take off his hat,
And shout to the old apple 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! Hip! Horray!

A Traditional Gloucester Wassail Song :

"Wassail! wassail! all over the town,
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;
With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee"

Wytchwood were joined by guest sides The Ironmen & Severn Gilders Morris, Step on Board Appalachian Step Dance Team , Old Meg Morris and Belly Fusion Dance Collective who performed around the Museum before joining with locals and the community choir for a torch lit procession along the river front and along the high street and back to the orchard garden where Wytchwood led the traditional Wassailing ceremony.
The ceremony included songs, poems, blessing of the Apple trees with cider and hanging bread as offerings in the branches. Then the Wassail bowl was passed around the audience filled with cider while more songs were sung by the choir. Finally everyone made lots of noise by shouting and banging sticks to scare the Evil spirits away and 'wake up' the Apple trees from their Winter slumber.

For full photos of the day visit our Flickr page:


Here are the news clippings from the Local paper that week: