Friday, January 17, 2014

wassailing the orchard



Wassail!
Be Well
Be whole
Be merry
For January 17th, the old date of Twelfth Night, is the day we wassail the orchard, the orchard where the cider apple trees dwell.
We take water, especially water drinking water as a given, but that has not always been; beer , wine and cider were once the drinks of choice because of often foul or contaminated water supplies.  Cider apple trees were important to the health of the village and waking the trees up to an evening in their honor, well that just might help them produce more apples.  The village drank to the health of the tree, poured libations of cider at it's roots, dipped pieces of toasted bread in cider and fastened them in the forks of the tree. all this while making merry and making noise, including noise makes and gunfire to scare away any evil that may be lurking in the usually quiet orchard.



.Wassail song

I haven’t heard this one before, but the structure and words are familiar from other wassailing songs like the Gloucestershire Wassail.
My trio sings an Apple Tree Wassail which is nothing like this one. The words are:
Old apple tree, we’ll wassail thee,
And hoping thou wilt bear.
The Lord does know where we shall be
To be merry another year.
To blow well and to bear well
And so merry let us be;
Let ev’ry man drink up his cup
And health to the apple tree.
(we found it was a bit to short, so added:
Through wind and snow, around we’ll go
But singing of the spring
Of warming sun, and cooling rain
and the new life they will bring.
~~http://www.afolksongaday.com/2013/01/05/apple-tree-wassail-song/




The Watersons sing the Apple Tree Wassail

O lily-white lily, o lily-white pin,
Please to come down and let us come in!
Lily-white lily, o lily-white smock,
Please to come down and pull back the lock!
Chorus:
(It's) Our wassail jolly wassail!
Joy come to our jolly wassail!
How well they may bloom, how well they may bear
So we may have apples and cider next year.
O master and mistress, o are you within?
Please to come down and pull back the pin
Chorus
There was an old farmer and he had an old cow,
But how to milk her he didn't know how.
He put his old cow down in his old barn.
And a little more liquor won't do us no harm.
Harm me boys harm, harm me boys harm,
A little more liquor won't do us no harm.
Chorus
O the ringles and the jingles and the tenor of the song goes
Merrily merrily merrily.
O the tenor of the song goes merrily.
Spoken:
Hatfulls, capfulls, three-bushel bagfulls,
Little heaps under the stairs.
Hip hip hooray!
.
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The History Behind The Event
Wassail comes from the Old Norse “ves heil” and the Old English “was hál” which means “to be in good health” or “be fortunate.” The phrase evolved from a used for toasts into a ritual in the cider-making regions of southern and western England. Wassailers would gather around an apple tree with pots and pans and other noise makers to scare away evil spirits.
The events are typically timed with the Twelfth Night celebrations.
“This old tradition started when the Molly Dancers (one plow worker dressed in a frock and other dressed in black) would go through the village and dance around and sing songs and make a lot of noise,” said Mount. “People who had apple trees and apple orchards would join in and they would give the Molly Dancers some hot cider or ale or something and dip old bread in cider and hang it on the trees to attract the good spirits of the orchard or good spirits that hang around the village and protect the trees through the winter so that they would have a good crop through the spring.”
Some would also pour the cider around the roots of the trees. In Medieval times, orchard laborers were paid in apple cider. Orchard owners would need a good crop to attract workers
~~http://www.growingproduce.com/fruits-nuts/orchards-go-wassailing-in-the-name-of-fun/
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