Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Apples wassailed in Mitcham

In 2016 a Community Orchard was planted on an area of derelict land in the London Borough of Merton; on Saturday 28 January 2017 an apple-wassailing, ‘traditional, rural and family’ event was held from 5 – 9 p.m.

Good publicity and fine weather ensured the presence of a large number of people, to enjoy locally produced cider, food stalls, and music.  There  was also a performance of border-morris by the Carshalton-based Black Swan side.
The wassail ceremony was          conducted by Druids (even though the first known reference to apple-wassailing dates from no earlier than the 1580s).  After summoning the spirits of the four points of the compass, lambswool (mulled cider) was poured on the roots of of a selected apple (Malus pumila) tree, and people were invited to hang toast dipped in lambswool, ‘for the robins’, from it branches.  There was an attempt to sing a wassail song, but no one seemed sure of its tune.

Thereafter people drifted home having had a pleasant evening enjoying simple pleasures.

Note:  It appears that this was a one-off event; it was not held in 2018 or 2019.

Updated 15 April 2019.

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