Wassailing in Somerset is usually celebrated in January The word ‘wassail’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘waes hael’, which means ‘good health’. Originally, the wassail was a drink made of mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and sugar.
In Somerset, traditional cider country means there are a lot of Apple Wassail events the public can attend. Westcroft Cider Farm in Brent Knoll hold their annual Wassail on the 16th January and this will be attended by many people keen to celebrate and raise a glass (or two!) of cider.
Famous folktales from Somerset tells of the “Apple Tree Man”, the spirit of the oldest apple tree in an orchard, and in whom the fertility of the orchard is said to reside.
A wassail queen (or king) leads a parade to a tree, often the oldest in the orchard. When she gets there, she dips a piece of toast in some mulled cider which is lifted and placed in the boughs of the tree to attract favourable spirits. More mulled cider is then poured round the base of the tree, and evil spirits are scared away with loud noises – sticks banged together, maybe even gunshots. Then the tree is serenaded by the crowd.
Griffin Toilet Hire are providing several events with portable toilets to cover the crowds during the Wassail.