Annual apple tree celebration

  • something to bang – like a baking sheet and a wooden spoon
  • your voice for a bit of singing / shouting
  • an instrument – drum, pipe…especially if you’re good at improvising

And dress up warm!

Wassailing, from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘waes hael’, which means ‘good health’, is a traditional, rousing ritual of fire, food, song and togetherness in nature in the winter depths, to celebrate the apple trees and to warm them up for the coming spring and to encourage a bountiful harvest. ‘Historic UK’ say There are two distinct variations of wassailing. One involves groups of merrymakers going from one house to another, wassail bowl in hand, singing traditional songs and generally spreading fun and good wishes. The other form of wassailing is generally practiced in the countryside, particularly in fruit growing regions, where it is the trees that are blessed. Wassailing (historic-uk.com)

Apple wassailing was traditionally celebrated by orchard & cider-making communities in the West Country, or in the Welsh border counties.  It happened on ‘Old twelfy night’ before the Gregorian calendar – which falls on 17th January.  Modern wassails happen all over the country throughout Janaury – see here – The Tradfolk Wassail Directory: Wassailing Events in the UK

At Squash our apple trees are a key partner in our 100-year vision – which began with the planting of apples trees in The Grapes Community Food Garden in 2010.  If nurtured, an apple tree can live for up to 100 years. Our love of wassailing comes from a shared passion for ritual, being close to nature & community and feeling embodied in the seasons. We’ll also be welcoming the new annual guardians of the orchard (which fortunately involves eating cake).

We’ll be attempting to sing a wassail – one of many different songs of this tradition – which happens at different sections of the wassail – have a listen here The Gower Wassail – YouTube and check the lyrics below (we’ll have some printed out for those who’d like to join in).

Gower Wassail

A-wassail, a-wassail throughout all the town
Our cup it is white and our ale it is brown
Our wassail is made of the good ale and cake
Some nutmeg and ginger, the best we could bake

Fol de dol,

De dol, de dol, de dol, de dol, de dol, de dee
Fol de da ro Fol de da ri
Sing too ra li o

Our wassail is made of the elderberry bough
And so my good neighbours we’ll drink unto thou
Besides all on earth, you have apples in store
Pray let us come in for it’s cold by the door

We hope that your apple trees prosper and bear
So that we may have cider when we call next year
And where you have one barrel we hope you’ll have ten
So that we may have cider when we call again


There’s a master and a mistress sitting down by the fire
While we poor wassail boys stand here in the mire
Come you pretty maid with your silver headed pin
Pray open the door and let us come in


It’s we poor wassail boys so weary and cold
Please drop some small silver into our bowl
And if we survive for another new year
Perhaps we may call and see who does live here


We know by the moon that we are not too soon
And we know by the sky that we are not too high
And we know by the star that we are not too far
And we know by the ground that we are within sound