It’s an ancient tradition of the Southern counties of England and ‘Waes Hail’ (Middle English for ‘Good Health’) has been an age old event to bless the apple orchards for the coming season.
I thought you were a futurologist?! (you may have mentally exclaimed) …
The thing with Wassail is that it has all the components of the trends we are seeing emerge right now. Conviviality, sharing of foods with both friends and strangers, celebration, old traditions putting meaning back into our digital disconnection, non-for profit or free, food direct from the source. This celebration is free from Hallmark holidays and puts the magic back into life, as we have come to know it.
I went to the Sussex Wassail this past weekend and it was a cold, clear night. The local farm was filled up with approximately 150 cars and at least double the amount of people gathered round the first part of the evening celebrations which I tried to photograph discretely -hence the quality of these:
One of the groups of Morris Dancers – Hunters Moon
A different group of Morris Dancers
The dancing and drumming went on for a few hours after which the masses proceeded to the barn to buy hot cider and then a procession was lead through the orchards accompanied by the various musicians and bag pipe bands. The whole path was torch lit:
One of the torch bearers, lighting the way
In the clearing of the orchard, a group began to sing the Wassailing songs, they fed the apple trees pieces of toast! and then lit a large central fire which had built in fire works…luckily there were no health and safety requirements on private land!
one of the men who lit the fire
drummers leave for the barn
At this point – large chunks of home made cake and hot cider were passed amongst us all, as we toasted the Wassail. Slowly people filtered back to the barn to witness more merriment, dancing and singing…
One of Hunters Moon making space for the dancing
The caller of the barn dance
The Green Man, watching over the proceedings