Wassail – An Ancient Rite of Orchard Blessing

The Druid's Garden

Sarah and I near the apple tree before our ceremony! Sarah and I near the apple tree before our ceremony!

Last weekend, I was honored to be invited to a friend’s orchard for an old-fashioned Wassail ceremony (you can read more about my friend’s orcharding and sustainability work on his blog, The Fruit Nut).  Wassail  (or Old English waes hael, literally meaning « be healthy ») is both a drink of mulled cider and also the actual blessing. Wassailing, which traditionally happens on January 17th, is an ancient English ritual that focuses on blessing the trees to ensure an excellent harvest in the coming year. The tradition originated in Southern England, where villages performed ceremonies to bless the apple trees and scare away evil spirits that may plague the tree. I’m not sure how old the tradition is, but the fact that the term originates from Old English gives some indication of the age of the ceremony.

Like many ancient traditions…

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