Invitation to Come A-wassailing
The anicent tradition of wassailing will be revived in Marlborough in the new year, as Marlborough Community Orchard volunteers attempt to 'wake up' the apple town's apple trees to ensure a bountiful harvest.
Wassailing has its origins in pre-Christian Britain, when the Anglo Saxons would hold a mid-winter feast and offer toasts of 'waes haeil!', which loosely translates as 'be thou hale' or 'good health'.
In the middle ages, peasants would visit the house of the lord of the manor, hoping for a share of the fine food and drink he would be enjoying. Over time, the wassail became carolling.
Meanwhile, in the West of England, wassailers would toast the health of the trees, to ward off evil spirits and ensure a good harvest.
Cider was poured over the roots of the trees and cider-dipped toast tied to the branches for the robins, tree guardians. Then the wassailers would bang drums, blow whistles, and sing a song:
Wassaile the trees, that they may beare
You many a plum and many a peare,
For more or lesse fruits they will bring,
As you do give them wassailing.
Marlborough wassailers will be meeting at 4pm on Saturday, January 5 to revive this ancient tradition. Wassailers are asked to bring a torch or lantern, a pan lid and a wooden spoon.
Led by the reverend Andrew Studdert-Kennedy, wassailers will process from Priory Gardens to Culvermead Close, then on to St Mary's Churchyard, 'waking up' the apple trees on the way.
Mulled cider and apple juice will be served at the church at 5pm, with rousing songs led by the Marlborough Community Choir.