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Wassail events to be held in Stamford, Bourne and Rutland

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Bring, pots, pans, bells and whistles to one of the annual wassailing events happening across the area.

‘Wassail’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon expression ‘waes haeil’, which means ‘Be well’, and was a greeting between a lord of the manor and his peasant workers.

The custom of wassailing originated in cider-making areas, and traditionally took place after Christmas. The purpose was to awaken apple trees and scare away evil spirits, to encourage them to fruit well later in the year.

Wassailing in Bourne
Wassailing in Bourne

Wassailing customs vary but generally share a theme. A wassail king and queen lead proceedings, with cider poured onto the roots of the largest or most productive tree, which is considered to be the guardian of the orchard.

Warm spiced cider is drunk and the queen places toast soaked with it into the tree branches ‘for the robins’ - guardian spirits of the tree.

Wassailing songs are sung and ‘charms’ recited.

Children hang cider-dipped toast to an apple tree to encourage a good harvest
Children hang cider-dipped toast to an apple tree to encourage a good harvest

The event culminates in a lot of noise as the crowd beats drums, buckets, pots and pans, blows whistles and rings bells.

  • A wassail will take place at Stamford Community Orchard - found at the end of Christ Church Close - on Saturday, January 8 from 4.30pm.

All are welcome to the event, where members of Woven Chords will lead the singing and there will be a storyteller. Local cider and apple juice will be on offer.

For more details phone 01780 484180 or check the Stamford community Orchard Group’s website www.scog.org.uk

  • Friends of Bourne Woods and Bourne Borderers morris dancers will also hold a wassail on Saturday, January 8, from 4pm.
Dipping the toast in cider
Dipping the toast in cider

The event will be at Bourne Community Orchard, off Beech Avenue, where people are encouraged to wrap up well and bring a torch or lantern if they have one, as well as a cup for a drink, and bells, whistles, saucepans and wooden spoons to make lots of noise.

  • A wassail at Hall Close, Ketton, takes place on Saturday, January 22, from 4pm and will include entertainment from Rutland Morris and Ketton Community Choir.

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