Saturday, January 17, 2009

Apple Tree Wassailing

Poems, song sheets and crowns are ready for the party! Apple tree wassailing is an old tradition in Britain, first recorded in the 1500's but probably older than that. I discovered it while looking for information about wassail, and we liked the idea so much we decided to wassail our trees this year. We had 4 houses with trees to be serenaded, scattered to the far corners of Jackson County.

The wassailers arrived at my house first, all 17 of them in a group. We read a short bit from Robert Herrick's poem King and Queen (also called Twelfth Night), then the cakes were handed out. This night could be considered Twelfth Night, if you count from Old Christmas, so we extended our holiday season for one more celebration.

The King and Queen of the Revels! How were they selected? Herrick's poem explains it.

The Queen found a pea in her applesauce muffin (our version of King Cake) and the King found a bean in his.

Michaela and Willa searched for the pea.

No pea in this one, but it must have been good!
The wassail punch (you can see it in the punch bowl) was delicious too. I used the recipe on my blog, but did a few things different: I heated half the cider with double the spices and added a teabag of Davidson's organic mulling spices (a gift from Jaime at Christmas). When the punch was boiling hot, I put it on simmer while we waited for everyone to arrive. Then I put the other half of the cider in the punch bowl and added to hot mixture to it. I put cloves into the orange slices (just for looks) and floated apple and orange slices and cinnamon sticks on top of the wassail. I was worried that the hot punch might crack the bowl, so adding it to the cooler liquid was a preventive measure that worked.

Cheers! Michaela is still working on her muffin as the party gets ready to head outside.

Song sheets, poems and cups for cider were handed out as we gathered at my tree, the first on our list of trees for the evening.

The boys fling their cider after a poem is read. One flung his cup too!It was retrieved for the next stop.

At house number 2 (Derek's), the Queen poses for a royal photo. Apparently a subject met with Her Majesty's disapproval!

The wassailers arrive at house #3.

The tree at this house was little, and in need of our good offices! It was given a right royal dose of cider.

At house #4 the king and Queen pose for one more photo op before relinquishing their crowns. We all trooped inside for hot beef stew, crackers and cheese and other good things to drink and drink. The chairs circled in the kitchen, the fiddle came out, and we sang and talked to the wee hours of morning. When Larry and I left, the party was still going. We left it in the capable hands of the young.

This morning the promised snow arrived. The weather cooperated with our plans last night--warming up enough to be comfortable and the roads clear.
And so ends this tale of wassailing. Here's to next year's wassailing--the poems, songs and wassail recipe are filed away, the crowns put back in their abode, and the punch cups washed and put away.

Good health to you, and to your trees. May all your trees bear pecks full, bushels full, branches full in the coming New Year!


Anonymous said...

A "certain lady" involved in the revelry called me this morning while I was getting ready to go to work. It was 4:40AM and the party was going strong. From what I understand the merriment continued til after I had already been to work for an hour...

That same "certain lady" didn't sound so good when I spoke with her at 3PM. I suspect someone was trying to land a helicopter in her head.

Due to the weather and her condition I believe she will be staying one more night.

That works out well cause the roads are in bad shape up here.

Wish I had been there!!!


Granny Sue said...

We left around 1:30am, So I can't speak to what befell after the elders departed! But when we stopped by this afternoon everyone was fine--and on the way home the prettiest snow fell. I'm glad she's not traveling in it, however.

solsticedreamer said...

how wonderful~its great to see traditions from here~and it is still done an awful lot!~ crossing the water and being kept alive :)

Janet, said...

Well, Susanne, I'd never heard of wassailing apple trees before. If it makes them bear fruit better, you should have came and gave my trees a visit.

Tiger Lady said...

That was so much fun! We are all already planning next years Wassailing. This is definitely a new tradition that we are all welcoming.

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