Wassailing at Deans Court
On the evening of January 17th we celebrated the Anglo-Saxon tradition of wassailing, or blessing of the fruit trees at Deans Court. A ritual involving drinking and singing to the health of the trees in the hope that they will provide a bountiful harvest in the autumn. The celebrations vary from region to region, and while many people celebrate it on Twelfth Night (January 5th) it's more traditional to celebrate it on 'Old Twelvey' - or January 17th. This is the true Twelfth Night, that is before the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar changed things around after 1752.
In general a wassail celebration involves a wassail Queen (a role performed by our own Kelly-Marie and Kate) leading an assembled group of revellers, comprising the farmers, farm workers and general villagers, in a noisy procession from one orchard to the next. In each orchard the wassailers gather round the biggest and best tree, and as a gift to the tree spirits, the Queen places a piece of wassail soaked toast into its branches. Joined by The Wimborne Militia, The Dorset Druid Grove and The Stourvale Mummers we acted out this ancient ritual and had a truly wonderful, very noisy, evening. As the temperature dropped to below zero we kept warm singing, shouting and dancing as we blessed the trees, drank from our specially created wassail mug and feasted on Flaming Peaches famous pulled pork baps. For days after the orchard was still adorned in all it’s wassail finery and we’re left hoping for a good harvest this year – it’s certainly deserved!