Tuesday 29 December 2020

Wassailing: A Traditional Custom for the End of Yuletide

Here's a post on wassailing by Jane Mortimer, who is a regular contributor to A Bad Witch's Blog

Some time ago I started reading Ronald Hutton's Stations of the Sun, and the winter seems to be the most prolific time for customs and traditions in the pagan world.  I recently came across a reminder that wassailing time will soon be upon us, so I looked into it and realised that it's not all about children going door to door giving blessings and receiving rewards. I was enthralled with the idea of wassailing orchards to encourage a good crop next autumn, so I thought I'd do the apple tree on the A12 justice by wassailing it, by way of a 'thank you' for all the lovely apples in my freezer and the pies we've had so far, and to wish it well for 2021.

I found a little song called 'The Apple Tree Wassail' that goes:

Old apple tree, we'll wassail thee,
And hoping thou wilt bear.
The Lord does know where we shall be
To be merry another year.
To blow well and to bear well,
And so merry let us be;
Let ev'ry man drink up his cup
And health to the apple tree.

I couldn't find a tune, so I wrote one in the same shape as most of the Wiccan chants I've heard.  The word 'another' was spelled 'anither', so I changed it, and I think the word 'blow' most likely means 'bloom' or 'blossom'.  Writing music by hand and sticking printed bits on is a very mindful and cathartic pastime - if only I could find more inspiration!  Perhaps I should look at more customs and write around them.

In the photo above you can see the page in my Wiccan and Pagan chant collection that shows the tune, with instructions to sing the song to an apple tree, drink cider in its honour, and give the tree an offering of cider and a piece of toast. 

In recent years wassailing ceremonies have become very popular for early January, but with current restrictions in place there are unlikely to be any public events. However, you could always go into your own garden and wassail your trees, apple or otherwise, with anyone in your bubble.

You can view Stations of the Sun on Amazon

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Pearl said...

You can't do a proper wassailing without some traditional wassail which is a hot mulled cider made with aromatic spices. :)

Badwitch said...

Oh absolutely. Mulled cider is a must!

Jane said...

Mulled cider it is then!

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jonnybones said...

"Wassailing Wonders" is not just a blog; it's an invitation to embrace the beauty of tradition, fostering a sense of community and shared joy during the closing moments of Yuletide. Whether you're a history buff, a lover of festive customs, or someone seeking to infuse your winter celebrations with a touch of magic, our blog promises to immerse you in the heartwarming world of Wassailing. Stay tuned for a journey into the enchanting realm where tradition meets merriment!
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