Woodcraft Folk

Cheltenham District
Woodcraft Folk

January 2014 - An evening of music making, song, and chanting under candlelight. Magical!

This was our take on the traditional Wassail to help kick start the apple growing season in the Pilley Bridge Nature Reserve Community Orchard. We managed to avoid the heavy showers for what turned out to be a lovely starry evening.

So what is a Wassail? It is a traditional ceremony that goes back 1000s of years and that is still practiced in Gloucestershire. The purpose of Wassailing is to awake fruit trees from their winter sleep and to scare away evil spirits and ensure a good harvest next Autumn. To make it a success we decorated the orchard with some fantastic candle lanterns we made the week before. Then we sang and shouted and banged saucepan lids, blew horns and generally made a terrible racket - to make sure the work was done. There was warm apple juice to keep out the cold. You Kingfishers certainly showed you were up to the challenge!

Here are the three chants we spoke to the trees:

  1. Here's to thee, old apple tree, that blooms well, bears well. Hats full, caps full, three bushel bags full, and all under one tree. Hurrah! Hurrah!
  2. Apple tree, apple tree, we all come to wassail thee. Bear this year and next year to bloom and to blow. Hat fulls, cap fulls, three cornered sack fulls. Hip hip hip Hurrah!
  3. Wassail the trees, that they may bear you many a plum and many a pear. For more or less fruits they will bring, as you to give them Wassailing.

We sang Gloucestershire Wassail to each of the newly planted trees. Follow the link for words and music.

A big thank you to Rupert for the photos.