Blessing the Apple Tree

30th December 2016  |  12:00am

Blessing the Apple Tree

For those who are having withdrawal symptoms from not enough house to house carol singing at Christmas, then “here we do a-wassailing” will be right up their street for Twelfth Night.

A wassail is a salutation wishing health to a person at festivities.  Wassailing is a very ancient custom and the word comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘waes haeil’ meaning ‘good health’- from Old Norse ves heill.

Wassailing an apple tree is a custom that goes back centuries and Marchand Petit are delighted to be sponsoring Stoke Gabriel on their annual Wassail.

Gordon Maunder, Chairman of Marchand Petit, commented: “The purpose of wassailing is to awaken the cider apple trees and scare away the evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn.”

The ceremonies of each wassail vary from village to village across the cider making counties of the West Country.  Tim Jones, Manager of Marchand Petit’s Totnes office elaborated: “A wassail King and Queen lead the song and processional tune from one orchard to the next.  The wassail Queen, or sometimes the youngest boy, is then lifted into the boughs of the apple tree where the toast is made and the tree is soaked in wassail from the clayen cup, as a gift to the tree. Dancing, songs and incantations are then recited.” 

 At Stoke Gabriel, on 21st January, they will be celebrating in the community orchard and church walk with folk music, Morris dancing, face painting and storytelling.  The Mummers Players will entertain the crowds before the Apple Blessing Ceremony in the orchard. Scrumptious homemade food, toffee apples and delicious mulled scrumpy from the Yarde Cider bar will be available on the night.  Last year’s wassail programme started at 4.30 to 7.30.  The Marchand Petit team will be there on the night to assistant the Friends of Stock Gabriel School who are organising the event. 

For further information please contact Marchand Petit’s Totnes office on 01803 847979.