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What’s in a wassail?

Thinking of attending the Weylands wassail on 3rd February, but aren’t sure what to expect? Here’s a brief guide to all things wassail!

A collage of wassailing, with toast in trees and a small fruit tree garlanded with brightly coloured ribbons

Orchard wassailing is a midwinter celebration with pagan roots, marked for centuries in cider-producing regions such as Somerset, Devon and Herefordshire. People gather in an orchard and ‘wake up’ the trees/scare away evil spirits by making loud noises with pots, pans (or occasionally a shotgun – although not at the Frome wassail!). Wassailers then toast the trees by pouring cider or apple juice on the roots and drinking to them. Toast is placed in the tree branches to feed the good spirits – with obvious advantages for the birds and insects of the orchard. It’s fun, it’s friendly and the idea is to promote a good fruit harvest in the autumn.

Orchard wassailing is not to be confused with the house-visiting wassail, with wassailers going door to door, which evolved into the tradition of carol singing at Christmas. However, singing is still very much a part of the Frome wassail and we’ll be inviting you to sing the Apple Tree Wassail Song on 3rd February!

More about the wassailing tradition

Come along to Weylands Orchard, off Whatcombe Road from 1.30pm on Saturday 3rd February and make a musical wassail stick or crown, while Bounds of Selwood Morris dance by the trees. We’ll be choosing Frome’s new town crier from 2pm to 2.30pm, before the start of the wassail ceremony, led by Tree Group Frome and accompanied by Frome Street Bandits, who play until the end of the event at 3.30pm. It’s free to attend; you’ll just need cash or card for your apple juice and mulled cider from Dowdings.

Thank you to Tree Group Frome, Charly of Pocketfull of Acorns, Frome Families for the Future and Bounds of Selwood for their help organising the wassail.

24 January 2024
Last Updated
24 January 2024
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