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This section is for Wassail Songs, information about wassailing and arrangements for local wassail singing in Stoke Gabriel or South Brent

The January 2021 Stoke Gabriel Wassail  has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The next will be planned when the coronavirus situation is clearer and COVID safety at the venue can be assured

Wassail from the Anglo-Saxon / Old English wæs hæl, (‘be you hale’ / Good health’). As a greeting or toast, the correct response is ‘drinc hæl’ (drink and be healthy).

Wassailing is the remnant of an old pagan tradition which later became associated with carols and the Christian Christmas celebration sometime around the fifteenth century. It had almost died out and most modern wassailing is a revival of the tradition rather than evidence of its continuance.

There are lots of variations in the songs and the customs associated with wassail, but there are broadly three main traditions of wassailing:

  • ‘Apple Wassailing’ or ‘Orchard Wassail’: Participants bless the orchards and fruit trees especially the apple trees and toast the health of all including cattle, fields etc. In the western counties of Britain, the tradition grew up on Twelfth Night* of toasting the good health of the apple trees that would bear the crop from which next year's cider would be made. Pieces of bread soaked in cider were placed in the crooks of trees, guns were fired and pots and pans were banged to ward off evil spirits and the trees were toasted with special rhymes.
  • ‘Wassailing door to door’ or ‘Visiting Wassail’: celebrated by carollers going from house to house singing carols of good wishes for the coming year. It was a sign of good luck to have them visit. A Wassail Bowl may be taken door to door in the hope that it will be filled. In various traditions, wassail was given by either the carollers or the villagers, in some places to decrease stores of alcoholic cider before the tax man came for the year and in other places to give thanks for the good wishes given by the carollers.
  •  ‘Wassail in the Hall’: at feasts and other indoor parties. One custom was to pass a single Wassail Bowl or Wassail Cup around the table, each taking a sip before passing it on to the next guest.

* Old Twelfth Night is 17 January (Twelfth Night in the old (Julian) Calendar, as opposed to Twelfth Night/Feast of Epiphany/’Old Christmas Eve’ on 5-6 January in our modern (Gregorian) calendar. The modern western Gregorian calendar was introduced and replaced the Julian calendar in Catholic countries in 1582 but not until 1752 in the British Empire (and 1918 in Russia). There can be a difference of 11 days between dates in the two calendars although this varies between dates in the year and has been adjusted over the years.)

Wassail songs from various sources which we have used at local Wassail events

 

VIRTUAL WASSAIL:

Saturday 9 January 2021: Zoom Wassail Choir rehearsal-1 from 2-3pm - Open access zoom choir. At this time of year, Rosa Rebecka would usually be preparing the Wassail Singers to sing for the strange and wondrous English tradition of celebrating apple trees and cider, which takes place usually around Old Twelfth Night (11 days after modern Twelfth Night). Sadly, this year, there won’t be public Wassail events, so join us for some virtual wassailing. At this first rehearsal we will learn Rebecka’s song ’The Robin’s Call’ plus some traditional wassail songs. In addition to being a singer-songwriter in her own right, Rosa Rebecka is a community musician for Wren Music and also led Wild Harmony sessions back in 2011. Join her on Zoom via the link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87565565023; or via Zoom app - Meeting ID: 875 6556 5023; see Facebook Event #1. To download a full set of lyrics - Click here and see more information on wassailing on the Wild Harmony Wassailing pages. No fixed fee, but donations gratefully received via PayPal to paypal.me/RosaRebecka.

Saturday 16 January 2021: Zoom Wassail Choir rehearsal-2 from 2-3pm. At this second rehearsal we will learn Stephen Lyons’ ‘Torbay Wassail’ plus more traditional wassail songs. Join via the Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87565565023; or via Zoom app - Meeting ID: 875 6556 5023; see Facebook Event #2. To download a full set of lyrics - Click here and see more information on wassailing on the Wild Harmony Wassailing pages. Other details as above - donations gratefully received via PayPal to paypal.me/RosaRebecka.

and

Tuesday 19 January 2021: Virtual Wassail 2021 from 7pm - a joyful evening big sing-along of wassail songs with Rosa Rebecka and other singers. Everyone is welcome: Gather round and celebrate the joy of wassail and singing in harmony, wherever you happen to be in the world! Regular singers from the annual event have also been invited. If you are confident you already know the songs, you can just come along for this evening event, or you can download a full set of the wassail lyrics - click here, and come to two afternoon sessions on 9th and 16th (see above) to brush up on them first. For more information on wassailing see the Wild Harmony Wassailing pages. There will also be an ‘open stage’ with singers of other winter/wassail songs. For the programme, and a song-sheet with the lyrics of these songs - click here or see attachments below.   Please bring an apple seed and pot with soil to plant it in and an apple based beverage (Hot cider if you're feeling particularly traditional, but warm or cold apple juice would work too). So, bring your voices, lay the table and “Bring us out a mouldy cheese and some of your Christmas loaf”! Zoom details same as above No fixed fee, but donations gratefully received via PayPal to paypal.me/RosaRebecka. See Facebook Wassail 2021 for further information.

 

2021  Wild Harmony