January can only mean one thing in Somerset… Wassail!
No idea what a Wassail is? We’ll share the (not so) secret!
A wassail is a traditional ceremony to encourage new growth and a good harvest of the apple trees that produce our wonderful cider apples.
The word “wassail” is an Anglo-Saxon greeting meaning ‘good health’. Wassail is also the name of a hot cider mulled with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. It was a drink designed for sharing out of a large ‘wassailing bowl’. The large bowl had many handles so that many hands could hold onto it.
During the month of January you will find many Wassailing ceremonies taking place here in Somerset. They are usually community events held in community orchards or are held in local cider makers orchards or sometimes pubs.
Locally, there are several wassails happening throughout January:
●Bere Cider Company Saturday 14th January
●Somerset Rural Life Museum Saturday 14th of January
●Rich’s Cider Saturday 14th January
●Glastonbury Abbey Sunday 15th January
●Alfred Gillet Trust Sunday 15th January
●Jubilee Wood Saturday 21st January
●Harry’s Cider is on Saturday 28th of January ( Walkable, around 20 minutes)
To book your stay for any of these fabulous events Click Here
What happens at a Wassail?
A Wassail Queen or King is chosen from the crowd. Pieces of cider soaked toast, are tied to branches of the trees in the orchard as an offering to the spirits. Cider is then poured over the roots of the apple trees to encourage a good harvest.
Traditional Wassail Songs are sung to the trees and a wassail bowl full of hot cider is passed around all the participants to drink from. The wassailers are encouraged to make a lot of noise, banging drums & clashing sticks. The noise is said to scare off all the evil spirits in the orchard thus ensuring a good harvest in the coming year.
Here are a few examples of songs sung at a wassail
Health to thee, good apple tree,
Well to bear pocket fulls, hat fulls,
Peck fulls, bushel bag fulls.
Bushel – bushel – sacks full
And my pockets full too! Huzza!
Blowe, blowe, bear well,
Spring well in April,
Every sprig and every spray
Bear a bushel of apples against
Next new year’s day
It is a really fun night out and a great excuse to drink some cider 🍺
If you’d like to experience the madness er, we mean magic 😉 of wassail, be quick and Click Here to book your stay.