Did you know that there are two types of wassailing done in England. The house-visiting wassail, usually done at Christmas time. And the orchard wassail, done early in the new year.
Orchard wassailing in St Ives is done at the St Ives Community Orchard early in the new year. It is based on a very old tradition done in the apple orchards Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.
The wassail starts with everyone gathering around the Sunset Apple tree with a wassail bowl full of cider. There are blessings, singing of the Wassail song, dancing and lots of shouting of "HUZZAH!"
The crowd then dances around the orchard banging drums, blowing horns and hitting pots and pans together to make as much noise as possible. This is to scare away the evil spirits.
The trees are given a drink of mulled cider and cider soaked toast is threaded onto their branches.
The bonfire is then lit and everyone (adults!) has a drink of mulled cider.
It is a lovely, community celebration of drinking, singing and lots of noise. Everyone is welcome to come along and join in with the fun. Lots of people dress up (well it is St Ives) and wear ivy and willow wreaths on their heads. It is all quite pagan and fantastic!
If you like St Ives you will love playing it!