Did you know the word “Wassail” comes from old English meaning “your good health” and is the ancient ceremony still celebrated today to invoke a bountiful apple harvest?
On Twelfth Night, in days of yore, people would cry, “Wassail!”, to which you would reply “Drinkhail”.
Tradition says the ceremony wards off evil spirits and encourages the good spirits to look after the apple trees and provide a good apple crop.
On a cold Twelfth Night, Rupert, Miles and Jill headed off to Somerset to visit our friends and fellow family-owned business, Thatchers, to see the ceremony for themselves.
First there was the small matter of learning the Thatchers Wassail song to get in good voice. Then, equipped with wooden sticks, all the guests gathered round the Wassail Tree in the light of the bonfire.
Accompanied by Morris dancers from Mendip Morris, the Green Man and the Wassail Queen invoked the guests to make as much noise as possible with the wooden sticks to frighten away all the evil spirits. After the cacophony subsided, the Wassail song began.
The Green Man and Wassail Queen poured cider from the Wassail Cup onto the roots of the tree.....
......before hanging toast from the branches to encourage all the good spirits to watch over the apples trees and to provide a bountiful crop come harvest time. This is the origin of the word “toasting” at celebrations!
The ceremony was followed by a jolly good evening of revelry and cider drinking!
Our thanks to Martin, for inviting us down to his Wassail. We hope we played our part in protecting the apples that make Hogs Back Hazy Hog so deliciously appley and securing an auspicious harvest for all Thatchers apples this autumn!