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How to Wassail at Home

What is a Wassail?

A Wassail has its roots in pagan rituals, blessing apple trees out in the orchards for a good harvest.  The weird and wonderful ceremony welcomes in the good spirits and scares away the not-so-good spirits to keep the trees in good health throughout the year. The word Wassail takes its name from Waes Hael – be well.

The event traditionally takes place on or around the 17th of January (Old Twelvey Night). Morris Men will lead a procession to the apple orchard and celebrate the chosen Wassail Tree. Cider poured over the roots of the tree will wish good health, and cider-soaked toast hung in the branches will attract the good spirits (the robins). Meanwhile the evil spirits are scared away with revellers making as much noise as they can (using sticks and pans), and sometimes shots are fired into the air in traditional ceremonies. Then there’s a Wassail chant – and of course lots of merriment, music, and a warming mulled cider.

What do you need to Wassail at home?

If you can’t get to a Wassail this year, then here’s the Thatchers’ Guide on how to celebrate this ancient tradition in the comfort of your own home.

This is what you will need:

  • An apple tree – or if you don’t have an apple tree, any tree will do. Be creative if you don’t have a tree – maybe a potted plant could be decorated instead!
  • An old saucepan and wooden spoon to make some noise
  • A slice of toast
  • Cider
  • The Wassail Song

 

And this is what you do

  • Put on some music to create some Old Twelvey Night atmosphere
  • Soak a slice of toast in cider and hang it in the branches of your Wassail tree
  • Pour some cider around the roots of the tree
  • Chant the Wassail song
  • Make some loud noise with your pots and pans to scare away those evil spirits
  • Sit back and enjoy a warming mug of Mulled Cider and a slice of traditional apple cake.

 

Make your own mulled cider

To make your own mulled cider, simply take a bottle of Thatchers Gold cider (or Thatchers Zero alcohol-free cider if you’re on Dry January), and in a pan, add:

  • 1/4 sliced orange, lemon and apple
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cloves
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 slice ginger
  • Soft brown sugar to taste.

Simmer gently for around ½ hour to let the spicey flavours infuse but be careful not to let it boil. Pour into a heat proof mug and enjoy!

Here are the words of our Wassail Song

Thatchers Wassail Song

O lily-white lily, o lily-white pin

Please to come down and let us come in!

Lily-white lily, o lily-white smock

Please to come down and pull back the lock!

 

Chorus:

Our wassail, jolly wassail

Joy come to our jolly wassail

How well they may bloom, how well they may bear

So we may have apples and cider next year

 

O master and mistress, o are you within?

Please to come down and pull back the pin

Chorus

There was an old farmer who had an old cow

But how to milk her he didn’t know how

He put his old cow down in his old barn

And a little more cider won’t do us no harm

 

Harm me boys harm, harm me boys harm,

And a little more cider won’t do us no harm

 

Chorus

O the ringles and the jingles and the tenor of the song goes

Merrily, merrily, merrily

O the tenor of the song goes merrily.

 

Hatfuls, capfuls, three-bushel bagfuls,

Little heaps under the stairs.

Hip hip hooray!

 

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