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By David Lyons - 7th January 2019 11:30am
Saturday 5th January saw the traditional Haddenham Wassail procession from Fort End up to Townsend Green and the community orchard. This year the group was led by a musician who played all the way from the bakery to the cider pots!
After being served with hot mulled cider and snacks the assembly visited several trees and to Wassail the trees. Children placed pieces of toast soaked in cider in the branches of the trees and a little cider was poured around the roots.
Then the traditional Wassail call was recited:
Here's to thee, old apple tree,
Whence thou mayst bud
And whence thou mayst blow!
And whence thou mayst bear apples now!
Hats full! Caps full! Bushel--bushel--sacks full,
And my pockets full too!
Autumn 2018 gave a good crop of fruit which some say was partly due to the hot summer, although others point out that last January we wassailed the trees 'good an proper..!'
Wassailing has seen a revival among some who recognise the importance of their natural assets, the soil and plants that sustain us and who value some ancient traditions that bring people together and build social capital.
Although some religious and secular groups reject Wassailing as a rather wacky pagan tradition, some Christians are more supportive. For example, CofE Bishop Brian Castle*, writing in the Church Times of the Wassailing tradition, states that "wassail ceremonies reveal a warm, even tender, partnership with creation. The apple tree is serenaded and respected."
Wassailing in some villages has been embraced by the local churches as Christianity has absorbed other pre-Christian traditions over the millennia.
Next year, 2020, the Haddenham Wassail will be held on Saturday 4th January: look out for details on Haddenham.net!
*Dr Brian Castle, formerly Bishop of Tonbridge, is an assistant bishop in Bath & Wells diocese, and a Fellow of Exeter University. His commentary in the Church Times can be read here.
Upper photo courtesy of Alasdair Wilcock, the lower image from Alamy/Church Times.
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