Time to Wassail but what’s the point?

Just in case you think the only thing to do in January is to put your feet up and sleep for winter, or are feeling glum that there’s no more celebrating to be had until Spring, well you might be glad to hear that’s not really true.  It’s time to get out there and Wassail!  Wassailing is an ancient tradition, which has been performed through-out the centuries and kept alive particularly among cider growers.  Primary purpose of Wassailing is to hail and wake up the fruit trees from their winter slumber to get ready for spring and prepare for the time of fruiting.

WassailTraditionally, a group of “Wassaillers” will go out play music, bang pans, hang offerings (often toast and ribbons) on the “King” fruit tree of the orchard.  Homage is paid to the trees and the tree spirits by reciting poetry and singing songs to the trees.  It’s great fun and a great way to get out and about on a grey January day and becoming once more quite popular.  Also provides some with an excuse for a small tipple of Cider!  So is there anything in it except for anything other than a strange and eccentric old tradition?

The tradition obviously is a throw back to Pagan times and a time when there was a closer relationship, even a courtship between humans and nature.

It’s an age old question, do trees, nature, plants respond to sound, talking, music, nurturing or is it just mumbo jumbo?

We cannot deny that plants and trees are alive, they are living organisms and as any living organism they respond to weather, ecology and changes in the atmosphere.  However, since the 1970’s there has been a growing body of scientific investigation into the response reactions of plants and trees to pain, noise, even music.  It seems that now thanks to more sensitive computer technology, what we instinctively knew hundreds of years ago can now be graphically demonstrated and tracked by computers. Evidence is showing that plants, although devoid of a “nervous” system as such, do have electrical impulses as living beings, which respond to not just changes in weather but to noise, music and particularly the noise of predators chewing on leaves.  This activity can cause the plant to start to product chemicals which are natural pesticides against known predators.

This small selection of articles expand a bit more in detail on this, including scientific research in America and Germany.





Crystals, have also been found to aid the growth and protection of plants with their steady natural energy pulse.

In light of this, perhaps there is more to Wassailing than just a quaint old tradition.  So if you decide to indulge in a bit of Wassailing this January, make it joyous and tuneful you never know you might just wake up that tree, stimulate it’s immune system and help get those juicey fruits to grow this summer!   The word Wassail is an ancient term meaning “be you healthy!”

If you’re stuck for some verse, here are a couple of traditional ones to get you started!  …  and WASSAIL!!

“Old Apple tree, old apple tree;
We’ve come to wassail thee;
To bear and to bow apples enow;
Hats full, caps full, three bushel bags full;
Barn floors full and a little heap under the stairs.


“Wassail! wassail! all over the town,

Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;

Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;

With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee.”


2 thoughts on “Time to Wassail but what’s the point?

  1. I have long appreciated wassailing. Thank you for your lucid, thoughtful presentation of the subject. Here in Vermont we are a few months away from the trees awakening, yet we are also aware they remain aware even in dormancy. Thanks for following my blog.

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