Winners of our recent Thatchers Cider competition, in Wetherspoon News, came face to face with the Green Man at a traditional West Country wassail ceremony to encourage a good apple harvest.
For the four winners and their partners, this event, hosted by specialist Somerset cider producer Thatchers, was their first taste of a wassail and first encounter with the Green Man!
The word wassail comes from the Anglo-Saxon ‘waes hal’ – meaning ‘be healthy’. The traditional ceremony sees evil spirits warded away from the apple orchards, with shotguns, with onlookers banging pots and pans, creating as much noise as possible to help the process. Meanwhile, the good spirits are attracted into the orchards with pieces of toast, soaked in cider, hanging on the tress’ branches, while cider from the traditional wassail cup is poured over the tree roots. Singing, dancing and mulled cider complete the traditional celebrations which include the crowning of a wassail king and queen.
Martin Thatcher, Thatchers Cider’s managing director, pictured left with our competition winners and the Green Man, says: “We were really chuffed to welcome our guests from Wetherspoon to our annual wassail ceremony. With around 200 visitors at the wassail, including entertainment from the River Brew Band, the evening was certainly one to remember.
“Wassailing is all about keeping rural traditions alive – and we are privileged to be able to share this wonderful West Country custom.”