If you’re not quite ready to pack away the festivities just yet, you’re in luck. The night of misrule beckons on Twelfth Night, and what better way to wrap up yuletide than with a spot of wassailing?
WHAT IS A WASSAIL?
Put simply there are two forms of wassail: the house-based and the orchard-based. The former involves roaming from door to door and offering a drink from your wassail bowl in exchange for a gift (more or less replaced by carol singing). The latter is a bit of an all-out celebration of all things apple-based, with a fair amount of singing to the trees which in no way is explained away by the consumption of cider.
CIDER YOU SAY?
Yes. Wassail itself is a hot mulled punch, often made from cider, and the ritual involves singing and drinking in an apple orchard to ensure healthy crops for the coming year. The traditional Tarring wassail starts with a torchlit march through the High Street by Sompting Village Morris, finishing at the garden of The Vine pub where the ritual is enacted by an apple tree followed by a Mummers’ play and seasonal music and singing (Sun 5 Jan 8pm).
SOUNDS LIKE IT MIGHT BE A BIT COLD.
If you’re lacking thermals, try heading to the Duke of Wellington in Shoreham for their wassail afternoon (Sun 5 Jan 4pm). There will still be wassailing of the apple tree, plus mulled cider and spiced ale and traditional music and song from Shoreham-based nu-folkies Laura Ward & The Risen Road.
IS THERE ANYTHING MORE TO ADD?
Oh yes. The word wassail come from the greeting Wæs þu hæl, which means “Be healthy!”, to which the correct Anglo-Saxon response was Drinc hæl or “Drink and be healthy!” So pour yourself a swift pint of cider from the likes of local breweries Silly Moo or Wobblegate and say pip-pip to the festive season.