Annual apple tree celebration at the Grapes Community Food Garden

At Squash our apple trees are key partners 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. Every January, we celebrate the apple trees by singing round the fire, making a racket with pots and pans to clear away any bad energy, sharing messages & poems of hope for a good blossom & growing season, and welcoming the new annual guardians of the orchard (which fortunately involves eating cake).

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 January – see here – The Tradfolk Wassail Directory: Wassailing Events in the UK