Wrap up warm, put on your wellies and join in the ancient tradition of wassailing in the UK’s apple-growing heartland
Eat Sleep Live Herefordshire, the county’s leading destination marketing organisation, have created a list of family-friendly wassailing events taking place across Herefordshire in January 2022 for visitors and locals to enjoy.
Wassailing (Wassail is thought to be derived from the old English ‘was hal’, meaning ‘good health’ or ‘be well’) is the ancient tradition of blessing trees in the hope of promoting a good harvest for the next cider and perry season, and warding off bad spirits from the orchard. This Anglo-Saxon custom is said to date back many centuries and is still a lively and treasured tradition across cider and perry-making counties today.
Wassailing celebrations vary, but typically involve a lively, torch-lit procession to the orchard where revellers gather round the biggest tree to sing and create lots of noise to ward off bad spirits. Often a wassail bowl, filled with warm spiced cider, perry or ale, is shared among the procession and a toast is made by the wassail queen as a gift to the biggest tree. It’s not unusual for the evening to end with a visit to a local pub to warm up.
Herefordshire proudly produces over half of the UK’s 700 million litres of cider each year, so where better to experience the jolly, ancient tradition of wassailing than the UK’s leading cider county.
Westons Cider will be holding a wassail from 6pm on Saturday 8th January in conjunction with Silurian Morris Men, starting from Westons Cider Mill (HR8 2NQ). There is no need to book for this free event, but any donations made will go to St Michael’s Hospice. Refreshments will be available on the night, including hot mulled cider and delicious culinary treats.
Jenny Pipes Morris will meet at Corn Square, Leominster, on Saturday 15th January at 11am before heading to the Millennium Green orchard to join in the wassail. Grange Court will be open and offering soup and refreshments afterwards.
As an award-winning cider pub, The Crown Inn at Woolhope embraces this great excuse for merriment and will meet at 5pm on Saturday 15th January ahead of the 6pm procession to the orchard. Their onsite holiday cottage sleeps up to 14, so this is a great winter weekend family and friends getaway.
On Saturday 22nd January, join Colwall Orchard Group at the Colwall Village Garden for their annual wassailing event.
Heidi Chamberlain-Jones, founder of Eat Sleep Live Herefordshire, commented:
“One of the jewels in Herefordshire’s crown is cider; its origin, heritage and traditions. Our county is proud to be home to so many outstanding cider-makers, and the ancient tradition of wassailing is a fabulous way to not only honour this craft, but to celebrate the start of a new year with friends and family.”
To find out more see https://www.eatsleepliveherefordshire.co.uk/wassail-into-2022/