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Twelfth Night Views :: Wassailing

"To insure the fruit trees did produce a good crop, it was the custom to toast or bless them on Old Christmas, or Twelfth Night.  Armed with a jug or a pitcher of cider or some other drink, the men would visit each tree in the orchard and drink the following toast:

Here's to the fruit tree
May you grow and bear fruit.
A hat full, a bag full,
A basket full and some to spare.

If the orchard happened to be fairly large, the men often found it difficult to reach the house after such a blessing ceremony. . ."

~ Christmas in the Mountains: Southwest Virginia Christmas Customs and their Origins :: Hubert J. Davis

Wassailing 1

Wassailing 2

Wassailing 3

Wassailing 4

I have to chuckle at that description of wassailing. The book goes on to described the way people wassailed apple trees back home in Somserset and Devon in England, where these traditions began. Sometimes, bread was soaked in the wassail and hung on the trees.  Loud songs were sung and shouted and people danced around the trees.  Our celebration did involve some singing and little climbing in place of the dancing.  You can tell that most of the trees are quite old, and may not even make it beyond this year.  Laurel took care of the youngest trees, the ones in our yard.  We are hoping for a big harvest this year, since last year was not so big.  We mourned the loss of a couple trees, one that was particularly good at bearing consistently (and cut down for that reason!), and we planted an Early Transparent a few weeks ago with hope for the future.

Here's the verse we used, from Sparkle Stories, and here are some more.  There are many to choose from!

Old apple tree, old apple tree,
We've come to sing to thee!
To bear and to bow,
Apples now!

Hats full, caps full,
Three bushel bags full,
Barn doors full,
And a little heap under the stairs.

And so it is that Christmas goes out.  Today, we take down the tree and welcome in King Winter.  There's awhile, I think, where having the tree up after Christmas feels silly, but we keep it for tradition.  Then, when it's time to take it down, it feels a little sad.  We're enjoying watching it twinkle one last dark Winter morning, before we send it back outside.  We've got a dusting of snow today and some in the forecast!

Twelfth Night


( 6 trees — Plant a Forest )
Jan. 6th, 2017 01:23 pm (UTC)
Do you have any three kings celebrations today?
We took it down on Wednesday while singing all of their school's christmas songs. It was pretty magical.
Jan. 7th, 2017 07:50 pm (UTC)
We read a story from Russia where a young girl is helped by the twelve months of the year. Next year, I think we'll do more. Simple is good, too, though. What kind of school do your children go to?
Jan. 7th, 2017 08:17 pm (UTC)

Waldorf which is called ' free school' (vrije school) here. It used to be the odd duck and was rated poorly i  terms of results. But the past 10 years or so it has had a huge surge of popularity. Finnish education is viewed as being the best in the world here and waldorf comes closest to it people now understand. We don"t really have many private schools or charter schools here. This one is public though they do ask about your parenting and preferences when you enter them. The ones where we live have really long waiting lists.

We have noticed that a percentage of people take their children out of this school and into a regular one once they turn 6. Like one mother said, people like this system for young children but believe at 6 the focus should switch to cognitive and in this school most children start learning that when they are almost 7. Which some consider too late.

Were you home schooled as a child? That's very unusual here.

Jan. 8th, 2017 12:28 pm (UTC)
How interesting! It's funny that folks feel Waldorf is too "easy" for children. As best as I can tell, the grades are fairly rigorous in contrast to kindergarten. My MIL was impressed that Willow learned all the math processes in grade one.

I went to public school. It was a good education, at the time, though I think the focus on technology is really short-changing children now. That wasn't the case for me, blessedly.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 8th, 2017 12:24 pm (UTC)
Was that a preschool? There's a play called "St. George and the Dragon" that seems to be pretty popular for Christmas. It's a mummer's play.
( 6 trees — Plant a Forest )

A Blessed Wilderness

It was just like being in heaven, being in there. In those days there was no road. The park was all a blessed wilderness. I have often thought what a wonderful people we would have been if we had wanted to keep it that way.

~Adolph Murie, biologist, on Denali


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