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Day 11: Wassail Away!

Posted: Monday 4th January 2016 by Community

On or around Twelfth Night, Wassail celebrations (Anglo-Saxon for ‘good health’) take place in orchards across the South West involving song and cider.

The apple trees are toasted – literally – adorned with pieces of cider-soaked toast by the Wassail King and Queen to wish them good health and good crop. Usually the toast and tipple are carried in a large bowl and participants may drink a toast from a shared cup.

Ceremonies vary but all involve singing traditional Wassail songs and rhymes such as ‘Hats full, caps full, three bushel bags full. Little ‘eaps under the stairs!’ and some involve a tremendous amount of noise as pots and pans are banged to scare away evil spirits.

Wassail with us at Lower Woods nature reserve in the South of the county on 14th January. From 10am we’ll be carrying out coppicing – the ancient practice of cutting back trees to rejuvenate them and encourage a multitude of fresh stems to grow.

This is just one of the woodland management techniques you’ll learn about before we move to the orchard at dusk for the wassail and plenty of spiced honey and apple cake. All in all a practical and fun day at one of the South West’s largest ancient woodlands.

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