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Tis the Season to… Wassail!

We were lucky enough to chat all things wassail, this morning, Friday 6 January, aka Old Twelvy, with Justyn Surrall from BBC Hereford & Worcester.

For me, it's the best thing about January - a chance to wrap up warm, to head out, make lots of noise, play with fire, sing songs of apples, and share a warming toast with a wassail cup to join in scaring away the evil spirits and wishing our orchards all the best for the coming season.

If you'd like to take part, wassails don't always take place on the official Old Twelvy, but throughout the month of January. There's a handy HerefordshireWassail page on facebook. And an utterly brilliant Where To Wassail Directory on Tradfolk.co - take a bow Rachel Wilkinson!

Through that I learnt that wassails are taking place in about 30 counties and regions of England, Scotland and Wales - amazing! That the venerable Leominster Morris side are heading tonight for their 40th wassailing season - respect. And that many of the wassails are being held in community orchards. 

As well as making noise, crafting a quick cup of mulled cider, and sharing our favourite wassail poem, Justyn and I spoke about some of the wassails planned around Herefordshire and Worcestershire. There are the sell-outs at Westons and Newton Court, tonight's Leominster Morris at Burton Court in Eardisland, The Fleece Inn at Bretforton on 14 January, Leominster's daytime Wassail at Grange Court Gardens on 15 January, and the Crown Inn at Woolhope on 21 January.

Big thanks to Elizabeth at the Museum of Cider for this beautiful Taunton wassail cup, a scaled down replica from the 19th century originals. You'll find cups like this in the brilliant Museum shop.

If you'd like to catch Justyn and I, you'll find us on BBC Sounds, BBC Hereford & Worcester Breakfast Show, c 8.25am and 8.50am.

If you can't see a Wassail locally on the brilliant Tradfolk list, do ask your local cider producer or community orchard. It may be a small affair that they're not publicising widely but would still welcome you joining in.

So, tonight where are James and I? Over in Marlow, joining in The Oarsman's event at Harrow & Hope winery - rumour has it some of our cider might feature during the evening - we'll drink to that! Wherever you are enjoy yourselves - Wassail!

The Poems

Wassail chants differ everywhere. We took the blue snippet from a well-known version:

Old apple tree, we wassail thee,
And hoping thou wilt bear
For the Lord doth know where we shall be
Till apples come another year.
For to bear well, and to bear well
So merry let us be.
Let every man take off his hat,
And shout to the old apple tree!
Old apple tree, we wassail thee,
And hoping thou wilt bear
Hatfuls, capfuls, three bushel bagfuls
And a little heap under the stairs
Hip! Hip! Hooray!