Here We Come A-Wassailing

Twelfth Night in a Devonshire orchard, (UK) circa 1863. Making noises near to the trees was common during wassailing. Farmers would bang on drums, trays and pots or fire off their guns in order to scare off evil spirits. Author unknown. Public Domain

Twelfth Night in a Devonshire orchard (UK) circa 1863. Making noises near to the trees was common during wassailing. Farmers would bang on drums, trays and pots or fire off their guns in order to scare off evil spirits. Author unknown. Public Domain

Here we are again on Twelfth Night, with no excuse whatsoever for continuing Christmas festivities after today. Very soon we’ll be seeing Easter Eggs in the shops! Oh my . . . Anyway, I decided to reblog this post from last year because I just love the version of the song, ‘Here We Come A Wassailing’ by Celtic Woman and David Archuleta and today is a good day for me to annoy everyone in our house by repeatedly singing it. I also love the whole idea of the Green Man, and have been intending to write a post about him since last January – which I’ll get round to, eventually. So, without another word about that, here’s the Wassailing post . . .

Millie Thom

Prelude to a Wassail. Broadmarsh Morris Men perform outside tha White Horse before heading for the orchard. Author: Glyn Baker. geog.org.uk. Creative Commons Prelude to a Wassail. Broadmarsh Morris Men perform outside the White Horse before heading for the orchard. Author: Glyn Baker. geog.org.uk. Creative Commons

Tomorrow is Twelfth Night, January 6th, the date traditionally accepted as the end of the Christmas period. It’s the day our Christmas trees and other decorations come down, to be stored away for another year. Nowadays, with many people returning to work straight after New Year’s Day – if not before – many households pack away all traces of Christmas festivities much earler.

In England, January 6th is also often remembered as the day for ‘wassailing’ – which is what this post is about. I’m posting it the day before so you can all get ready the following items for your own wassailing ritual: a nice big, stout stick; a mug of wassail (generally mulled cider, nowadays); a bucket ot the same wassail, with a good…

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About milliethom

I am a reader and writer of historical fiction with a keen interest in the Earth's history and all it involves, both physically and socially. I like nothing better than to be outdoors, especially in faraway places, and baking is something I do when my eyes need respite from my computer screen.
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19 Responses to Here We Come A-Wassailing

  1. Happy Twelfth Night, Millie!
    I’m getting ready to be picked up to go one state north of here for our ‘Kingdom’ Twelfth Night. I’m entering the arts competition sponsored by Their Royal Majesties. While I have no expectations of winning, I would dearly like to make the cut in order to perform in the Royal Presence. I’m playing two pieces for Renaissance lute–one a solo prelude and then a lute-song (‘Weepe You No More,’ by John Dowland) that I will also sing to. Please with me good luck! 🙂

  2. milliethom says:

    I’m sure you’ll be totally brilliant, Timi – but I’ll wish you every bit of good luck anyway. Twelfth Night is a very special night and it’s good to know you’re well enough to be taking part in the celebrations. 😀

    • Hi Millie! Well, I didn’t win the competition at Kingdom 12th Night with my lute playing, but at least I did perform. What I wanted to share with you, though, is that I have finished Shadow of the Raven. Absolutely wonderful! I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I’ve just started Pit of Vipers. Of course, this means that I need that last book of your trilogy to be ready when I’ve finished Pit. So I hope that your relative silence on the blogosphere means that you are busy writing it! 🙂 To your good health and productivity….
      Timi

      • milliethom says:

        Hi Timi. I hope to be getting round a few blogs over the next few days, so I’m looking forward to catching up with yours. Thank you for the nice words about Shadow. I can only say, I’m glad you liked it. It means a lot to me. 😀 Book 2 is more about Alfred, but Eadwulf still plays a part. As for Book 3, I can’t say it will be finished by the time you’ve read PoV, but a little later this year. I’m seriously considering putting my blog on hold for a while as I really do need to concentrate on my book.
        I hope 2017 is treating you well, so far. I don’t know about you, but I’m already looking forward to spring. The weather here has been dark and dreary and wet as well. I’d be happier to see some nice bright snow!
        Muck love, Millie.

      • Thanks, Millie for the good wishes! And I think ‘Muck love’ must have been a Freudian slip/typo that grew out of your wet weather! 🙂 Here the weather is quite variable indeed–we never know what the next day will bring, sub-freezing temperatures or almost balmy ones, rain, snow or fair, gloomy or sunny, we just never know what to expect. Climate change is definitely real here! Take care and if I don’t see you much on the blogosphere, I’ll know why. I hope you have many happy and productive writing days on Book 3, as much for my own benefit as yours! 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        Oh dear… Muck love! I’ll blame that on the fact that it was bedtime. 😦 My fingers have a mind of their own once my brain shuts down for the night. Apologies for the typo, Timi.
        I hope your work on the paper you were writing before Christmas is going well again. I seem to remember you saying your tutor expected you to carry on with it. I suppose you’ll be glad you didn’t give it up – once you’ve finished it.

      • Yes, I will be happy once the damned thing is DONE! 😛

  3. leggypeggy says:

    We had to learn ‘Here We Come A Wassailing’ in high school and I can still remember the tune and words. Nice way to counter the fact that hot cross buns are already for sale in our supermarkets. 😦

  4. I remember this post, Millie!! So true about Easter eggs, Mardi gras cakes, decor etc are already out here in the stores!!

    • milliethom says:

      It completely spoils all holidays having them thrust in our faces way too early. When I was young, we rarely saw signs of any of the holidays until a couple of weeks before, at the most! Thanks, Freda.

  5. thank you for writing about these wonderful traditions. I am guilty of taking my tree and decorations down early. Unfortunately many of these old customs are not carried over in North America.

    • milliethom says:

      I’m sure many people take their Christmas trees down early nowadays, Cybele. Schools often go back before that date, and parents like to get all signs of Christmas packed away before then. Wassailing is a funny old tradition that seems to have had a bit of a revival in some areas in recent years (mostly cider-producing ones). It’s a lot of fun and the customs themselves are so ingrained in our pagan past. Thanks, Cybele.

  6. Antonia says:

    This is so interesting Millie! I am glad you re-posted, because I didn’t see it last year. I hope you and your family have a fantastic 2017!

  7. This was a great post and worthy of a re-blog. Such a strange tradition for us to read about. It is one of those that haven’t every made an imprint here. I think perhaps it is just too hot to be bothered with Christmas after the fact. However, I am glad that people are continuing to honour it.

  8. inesephoto says:

    Beautiful reblog, glad to read it again. I have been to the Celtic Woman concerts three times – they are amazing. I went wassailing a couple of times when I was young. Not everyone was impressed with us showing up, but we had fun anyway 🙂

  9. Moony says:

    Thanks for the reblog, it was such an interesting post to read! I’d never heard about wassailing until now – sounds like something I’d certainly like to take part in 🙂

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