Help us celebrate the ancient British tradition at Terhune Orchards this winter. Wassail the apple trees with us.

The public is invited to join the Mount Family in our tradition of protecting our orchards and insuring a successful crop for the next season.  Activities include dancing and singing by the Molly Dancers and re-enactments of old English traditional rituals.  Everyone joins in with chanting and music making, toasts of hot cider and placing gifts of cider-soaked bread in the tree branches while chanting the lively words of praise for the New Year.

Warm yourself next to our bonfire (marshmallows included) or in our store. Live music, provided by the Spiced Punch quartet playing traditional music using violins and flutes of many kinds, will be performed all afternoon.  The festivities are free and open to the public, young and old.

Wassail Handsome MollyMarshmellow Fire at Wasssail Partywassail bread tree 2005

Join the fun. Bring noisemakers— drums, whistles, bells, clackers, or put a few pebbles in an empty coffee can with a lid. These will make a joyful and worthy noise to drive away any and all spirits.

An Ancient British Custom

Wassail Handsome Molly 2Wassailing the apple trees was especially popular in the cider-making regions of southern and western England, where celebrants would gather around a big, old apple tree and sing traditional songs. They made noise through the branches to scare away spirits, and toasted the tree’s health with warm cider passed around in a bucket. Some cider was also poured over tree roots, and cider-soaked toasted bread was placed on its branches. The ceremony also included blowing horns and thrashing the tree with hopes of increasing productivity during the coming growing season.

This custom was especially important during a time when part of a laborer’s wages was paid in apple cider. Landlords needed a good apple crop to attract good workers. Wassailing was meant to keep the tree safe from spirits until the next year’s apples appeared. Those who celebrate on old Twelfth Night drink the cider produced during the past year and offer toasts to a bountiful new year.