Just over a year ago, our family made the move from city life in Bristol to beautiful rural Gloucestershire. Country living has brought with it any number of lifestyle changes and new experiences. Today, we embraced the local custom of wassailing. This tradition takes place on old Twelfth Night (according to the Gregorian calendar) in the cider-producing counties of the South of England. It is intended to exhort the apple trees to fruit well in the coming season by extolling the trees and frightening away any evil spirits.
We joined the celebrations at a local community orchard. Armed with shakers and maracas, the boys were most happy to assist in making loud noises to ward off bad spirits. Torches and lanterns were carried, wassail songs were sung, cider was drunk (and some poured onto the roots of the tree) and the children helped to dress the tree with toast soaked in cider for the robins.
Snow was falling as we set off, and it was a chilly night for it, but there is nothing like spiced cider to warm the cockles!