These long dark winters are always a bit of a drag, but us mice do our best to while away the cold months with as many festive gatherings as we can fit into our social calendars.
One such gathering, generally held at Bramley and Pip’s place in the old apple tree, is the annual Wassail, an Anglo Saxon tradition which largely centres around a giant bowl of warm spiced cider and the wearing of apple Pom Pom scarves designed by Gertrude’s knitting circle.
Our event this year followed the usual ‘order of service’, opening with a hearty rendition of the traditional Wassail song, passed down through many a mouse generation throughout the ages. This was then followed by a good ten minutes of pot and pan bashing, designed to scare away any residing bad spirits which might do harm to the tree by way of funguses or parasites. Executed with such enthusiasm, if the spirits weren’t scared off, then they’re certainly now stone deaf.
Pick up your pans and bash your pots
The devil we’ll scare away
Wassail old apple, we’ll drink to you
On this dark cold winters day
Blow well, bear well
And merry mice let us be
Accept our gifts of toast and ale
Wassail dear apple tree
To end the ceremony, Veronica, who works on the Mail Train, led a lamp lit procession through the boughs and branches in her role as this year’s Wassail Queen. As we tied our appley offerings of cider soaked toast to the tree, we invited the good spirits to visit and keep her safe throughout the coming year.
A good evening had by all, I think we’ve done our best to ensure a good harvest of apples for this year’s cider, crumble and jelly production.
Hope this letter finds you well!
The ancient tradition of Wassailing in the fruit growing regions across England was traditionally held on the Twelth Night to protect the trees in the orchards and ensure a bountiful harvest. Whilst Wassailing may have fallen into decline over the last century as our lives slowly moved away from the harvesting of our own crops, our ever increasing need for peace and breathing space in the busy 21st century has revived our desire to connect with nature in the form of this most ancient of traditions. With our renewed appreciation of locally grown foods and development of community orchards, Wassailing is seeing a revival across the ‘gardens’ of England. Long may it continue!
To learn more, check out The Orchard Project blog.
Morris would love to hear about any traditions that you’re keeping alive. Drop him a line in the comments box and he’ll get back to you just as soon as he’s poured himself another tankard of spiced cider.
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