Today I finally got around to wassailing my apple trees. I have been meaning to do this for some time. Traditionally Wassailing takes place on or around 6th January and I did go to a Wassailing event in a local orchard on January 8th but like all good intentions (and due to bad weather) I postponed Wassailing my trees at home. However, I decided that today, being Imbolc (or St. Bridget’s Day) and the beginning of Spring it was a good alternative day to do it.

I also made one or two changes of my own to the tradition. Usually the ceremony involves beating the trees with sticks, making a lot of noise with song and dance and so on. At the event I went to people hung bits of toast on the trees and poured a libation of cider or apple juice around the roots. We were also given a slip of paper with the words to recite whilst beating the trees:

Apple Tree, Apple Tree give us some fruit,
or it's off with your head and up with your root.

I have to confess I wasn't really very happy about the idea of beating and threatening the trees with dire consequences of their failure to comply so I made up my own words to bless, rather than threaten, the trees and ask nicely for their bounty. I did not beat them with sticks but simply offered each tree in turn (3 of them) an apple juice libation with these words:
Wassail, wassail to you Apple Tree
and to the Good Spirit residing in thee.
This libation I offer, take it down to your roots
and I ask that you grant us your bountiful fruit.

The word ‘Wassail’ is a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon ‘Waes Hael’ which means ‘good health’ and is the root of our words ‘health/healthy’, so I simply wished my trees good health and, without threats, asked them to provide me with fruit. It remains to be seen if it works!


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