Enjoy dancing and singing by the Molly Dancers and re-enactments of old English traditional rituals, as well as chanting and music making, toasts of hot cider and placing gifts of cider-soaked bread in the tree branches while chanting the lively words of praise for the New Year.
Top the evening off by a bonfire, complete with marshmallows , and live music by the Spiced Punch Quartet playing traditional music using violins and flutes of many kinds
Join the fun. Bring noise makers — drums, whistles, bells, clackers, or put a few pebbles in an empty coffee can with a lid. These will make a joyful and worthy noise to drive away any and all spirits.
An Ancient British Custom
Wassailing the apple trees was especially popular in the cider-making regions of southern and western England, where celebrants would gather around a big, old apple tree and sing traditional songs. They made noise through the branches to scare away spirits, and toasted the tree’s health with warm cider passed around in a bucket. Some cider was also poured over the tree’s roots, and cider-soaked toasted bread was placed on its branches. The ceremony also included blowing horns and thrashing the tree with hopes of increasing productivity during the coming growing season.
This custom was especially important during a time when part of a laborer’s wages was paid in apple cider. Landlords needed a good apple crop to attract good workers. Wassailing was meant to keep the tree safe from spirits until the next year’s apples appeared. Those who celebrate on old Twelfth Night drink the cider produced during the past year and offer toasts to a bountiful new year.