Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Apple wassailing, Brixton, 2022

The annual wassailing of trees in the Brixton Community Orchard, London Borough of Lambeth took place on Sunday 23 January 2022, starting at 2 p.m. and continuing for about an hour.  Earlier in the afternoon, starting at 1 p.m., people were invited to come along and learn how to prune fruit trees.

Although advertised as ‘free, family friendly event, all welcome’, very few children were present.  Proceedings were led by Brixton Tatterjacks, a mixed morris side, and opened with the singing the ‘Adapted Tatterjacks Wassail Song’ – a variant of the familiar ‘Wassail, wassail, all over the town’ with various changes, including ‘Our wassail is made of the elderberry bough’ and ‘Our cup it is made of the white elder tree’; surely cups, wassail or otherwise, are rarely, if ever, made of elder (Sambucus nigra) wood?  Another song followed, the ‘trees’ blessed, and people invited to hang toast on the branches of the apple (Malus domestica) trees, it being stressed that the toast should not all be hung on one tree, and the luck should be spread around.  Although people were not told to dip the toast in cider, most people did so.  However the few pieces of toast provided were hung on not only apple, but also, on cherry (Prunus cvs), trees.

Then followed a display of morris dancing, with two dances for the public to join in and learn.  People very willing and, and on the whole, successfully did so.

The weather was dull but mild, allowing the 100 or so people present to have an enjoyable time.

Edited 3 February 2022.

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