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What is Apple Wassailing?

12th January 2018

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January is the perfect time to attend a wassailing event, to celebrate the possibilities of the coming year and hope for a successful apple harvest. But what is apple wassailing?

This winter tradition dates back over 400 years as it was originally recorded in 1585 in Kent. The word ‘wassail’ itself means ‘be in good health’, and it can be traced back to Anglo-Saxons. It is now used more as a toast than a greeting as it originally was, but as well as this the word also refers to a hot cider, which is mulled with cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar.

Apple wassailing itself traditionally occurs on Twelfth Night, which is either the 5th or 6th of January, but you can hold a wassailing event on a date of your choice throughout the month of January. During these events people gather at a cider orchard to encourage good apple harvests for the year, and they will ‘bless’ the trees during the ceremony.

At these wassailing ceremonies traditional songs are sung, a wassail queen or king is chosen, cider spoked toast (also called sops) is eaten as well as put by tree roots and the attendees make loud noises to help warn off evil spirits! It is often the oldest, largest tree that is the centre of the gathering.

You can celebrate this traditional event this month and make the most of this historic celebration, filled with songs and cider! To find out more about apple wassailing, to find an event near you or share your story, go to


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