January is traditionally the month to care for trees in practical and symbolic ways. Since the Middle Ages in the south of England, villagers go out to their orchards on Twelfth Night and sing to their trees. They might lay some bread (or tie it to branches) and pour some cider at the roots. They might also mulch the trees, to protect the soil at their roots from the harsh frosts and rain to come. The idea is to call to the trees to wake them up, to get their sap up and to push away bad spirits, so as to ensure a good harvest. It’s a good opportunity for some community creativity too – dress up, parade, dance and express your future wishes for wellbeing.

Do you have some fruit trees in your garden or your neighbourhood? Can you organise a wassail? It doesn’t have to be a big affair. Just mulch the roots, tie some bread or ribbons & wishes on to the branches, pour some cider on the roots and have a good old sing. Can you use your creativity to do something different for it, something relevant to you personally, to your locality or the year? Maybe you can write a new wassail song and share it?

You could do it on Twelfth Night, which has special significance, or on the 17th which is Old Twelfth Night, or any other day in January.

Please share your photos and songs on the Beuysterous Facebook group or by including links in comments here.

Photos from the wassailing I attended at the Greenwich Pleasaunce community orchard are here on Flickr


3 thoughts on “January Wassail

  1. Many thanks for this post, which I heard about via Twitter. Very timely as I always “keep” the 12 days and I’ve been reading that old Brian Branston book, “The Lost Gods of England”, which says a lot about mid-winter folk traditions and related mythology. I had a plan to add a cornice pear tree to my garden and mulch the other fruit trees about now and now will make sure I do it this Saturday (12th day of Christmas). I always wanted to see a Mummers Play and hope to make the one at the Globe on Sunday, and am on the look out for one down here in Kent too. Happy new year!

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