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Carhampton Wassail

Carhampton wassails

Current affairs 1968 1 mins Silent

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Carhampton is famous for its wassailing celebration which is started in the 1930s by the Taunton Cider Company. A small event takes place in the community orchard next to the Butchers Arms Pub on 17 January. Villagers form a circle around the largest apple tree and hang pieces of toast soaked in cider in the branches for the robin who represents the good spirits of the tree. Shotguns are fired overhead to ward off evil spirits.

Wassail is traditionally hot mulled spiced cider and drunk during the wassailing ceremony. The word comes from Old Norse ves heil and literally means be you healthy or to your health. The first recorded wassail is in 1585 and linked to Twelfth Night marking the coming of Epiphany and the end of Christmas. The ceremony is to bless the tree thereby encouraging a good crop of apples in the coming season. Apple Tree Man is a folktale in Somerset and he is the spirit of the apple tree and the guardian of the fertility of the apple orchard.