25th Oct, 2020

Blessing and good health toasted at new year’s Wassail in Redditch

Ross Crawford 29th Dec, 2017

BLESSINGS of good health will be celebrated at this new year’s Wassail at Headless Cross Community Orchard, for the seventh year in a row.

With a noisy procession and ceremony, the annual Wassail is on Saturday, January 6, gathering outside The Rocklands Social Club at 7pm to walk to the orchard on Headless Cross Green.

Everyone is welcome to come and help awaken the trees and ensure a good harvest, but be prepared for making a real raucous orchard racket.

Singing will be accompanied by Arrow Valley Brass Band and the event will be followed by a free indoor concert by Ash Mandrake.

Orchard volunteer Gabby Hemming said: “Wassailing is an ancient custom, believed to help ensure a bountiful crop of fruit.

“With shouts, bangs and singing, our ceremony will scare away evil spirits and awaken the trees from their winter slumber.

“In typical tradition, an axe man will threaten the oldest apple tree, whilst our Wassail Queen will offer a blessing by draping cider-soaked toast into its branches.”

The wassailing tradition has been prevalent in Worcestershire for more than 2,000 years, whilst the Headless Cross group have featured in a book about wassailing.

“Bring drums to bang, whistles to blow and horns to honk! To warm our spirits mulled cider and apple juice will be served. All are welcome,” added Gabby.

Afterwards, wassail-goers will be treated to a free performance in the warmth of The Rocklands from 8.15pm. Music will be provided by Ash Mandrake, storyteller and musician.

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