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Wassail! Wassail! All Over the Town!

Helping Britain Blossom have been embracing the winter weather and reviving the age-old tradition of wassailing across the UK.

The pagan tradition of wassailing is an ancient custom that brings communities together in an orchard to serenade fruit trees and scare off evil spirits in hope of promoting a good harvest for the forthcoming year.

 

At Hereford’s Archive and Records Centre community orchard the Herefordshire Emergency Wassail crew led revellers in traditional songs while toast was tied to the young fruit trees, a way to attract birds, especially robins, who will feed on pests that plague trees.

 

In Birmingham, one of the first Helping Britain Blossom orchards to be planted last year, the Perry Moat Orchard hosted their inaugural wassail complete with Morris dancers and a visit from the Lord Mayor. The Friends of Perry Hall Park scared evil spirits away from their community orchard by encouraging participants of all ages to make a ruckus by banging pots and pans.

 

Calders Community Garden had a fun but wet wassail on a rainy evening in Edinburgh. The hardy bunch who turned out warmed up with hot mulled apple juice from the fire and a few wassailing songs before heading indoors to enjoy cullen skink and celeriac soup whilst hatching a plan to plant more fruit trees along the canal side, including damson, cherry and hazel.

 

The Old Twelvy Night Wassail, in Stretford, Greater Manchester was the culmination of a great day that saw families and members of the community coming together to plant a new orchard in Longford Park’s new disc golf course.
Over eighty members of the community took part in the lantern lit parade to the new orchard, including the newly crowned Wassail Queen, while supping on mulled apple juice.

Alan Heckman from Manchester Disc Golf said:

“We’re really thankful to Helping Britain Blossom for helping us plant a fantastic bio-diverse orchard, from local heritage apple trees. From teaching us how to plant and care for the 60 plus apples trees on our site and to the great promotion and effort the team went to in hosting our first Wassail. Thanks to this event over 4000 people became aware of the orchard and our fantastic 18 hole Disc Golf course that’s right on their doorstep. Please come back and help us do it again in 2017”

 

Helping Britain Blossom’s final wassail of the season was part of our Seed and Tree Festival in Glasgow, hosted in collaboration with Common Good Food. This wassail saw a large gathering follow a lantern lit procession to nearby Rose Garden Orchard where Jane Lewis led them in a rousing rendition of the Carhampton Wassail song.

“Old apple tree we’ll wassail thee,
And hope that thou wilt bear
For Lord doth know where we shall be
come apples another year.

For to bloom well and to bear well,
So merry let us be
Let ev’ry one take off their hat
And shout out to the old apple tree (x2)

(Spoken)
Old apple tree we’ll wassail thee,
And hoping thou wilt bear
Hatfuls, capfuls, 3 bushel bagfuls
and a little ’eap under the stair!”

You can find photographs of all of our wonderful wassails over on the Helping Britain Blossom Facebook page.

Thank you to everyone for helping us revive this ancient tradition and for helping Britain blossom!

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Why Orchards Orchards have played an important role in our communities for hundreds of years, providing a communal space for gatherings and celebrations. Find an Orchard Our ambition by 2017 is to help 100 communities to plant, care for and restore their own orchards. And to get things going, we're focusing on cities and towns in seven parts of the UK