Visitors At The Winter Door
Wassailing is an ancient traditional winter custom which may well date from pre-Christian times. The ceremony involves
a form of sympathetic magic in which the apple tree receives a libation of cider punch in order to encourage a good fruit
crop later in the year. Firecrackers and/or guns are often used to scare away evil spirits and to awaken the tree from its
winter slumber. The word Wassail is said to have been derived from the Saxon greeting ‘Waes Hal’, meaning literally,
‘good health’. The earliest written record of wassailing, or ‘howling’ as it was sometimes referred
to in Sussex was at Horsted Keynes in 1670, where the rector recorded giving the ‘howling boys’ 6d on 26th December.
One of a number of songs connected with the ancient mid-winter custom of wassailing. This took various forms - from the
simple house-to-house good luck visit with the wassail bowl to the more bizarre shooting guns into apple trees or chanting
to the bees in their hives.
A-wassail, a-wassail throughout our town,
Our cup it is white and our ale it is brown.
Our wassail is made of the
good ale and true,
Some nutmeg and ginger it's the best we can brew.
- Chorus (after each verse):
- Fol the dol fol the dol di dol
fol the dol di dol fol the dol di dee
fol the dairo fol the dardy
Our wassail is made of the elderberry bough,
And so my good neighbours, we'll drink unto thou,
Besides all on earth,
you'll have apples in store,
Pray let us come in for it's cold by the door.
There's a master and a mistress sitting down by the fire
While we poor wassail boys do wait in the mire.
pretty maid with your silver-headed pin,
Please open the door and let us come in.
Whether you are a local or
a visitor, here you can dip
into England and begin to
uncover some of its natural
and cultural richness. It is a
small start, we hope to offer
more ways of looking over time
the task here, initially, is
to excite people - as locals
or visitors - with ways of
getting under the surface
of places, offering a way of
looking at the local, a kind
of evolving celebration.
Christmas-time in one
and it is too!
and on and on and on
and....but it's all good
or John Kirkpatrick unleashed
there's a grandson and a
great grandson too, but
that's another story altogether
a very good overview of
what wassailing is all about.
this site from Woodlands Junior School,
Hunt Road Tonbridge Kent, UK
well done children, a wonderful site!!