This film is part of Free

Wassail Wear and Whimple

Wassail queens assemble at Taunton Castle before returning to their respective orchards.

News 1975 2 mins Silent

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Here we come a-wassailing or a-fashionista-ring! Wassail queens assemble at Taunton Castle and model the new old style costumes combining medieval chic with 1970s style topped off by embroidered designs inspired by nature. A traditional wassail in Whimple is held on old Twelfth Night of 17 January with the incantation Here's to thee, old apple tree, That blossoms well, bears well. Hats full, caps full, Three bushel bags full, An' all under one tree. Hurrah! Hurrah!

Wassailing ceremonies are thought to have pagan origins and sing in the spring season. Celebrated on Twelfth Night, the ritual involves dressing up, nominating a king and a queen, processing to music and chanting to the apple trees in the orchard before the wassail queen is lifted to place bread soaked in the previous season’s cider atop the tree trunk. This appeases the tree spirits (think of the Ents in Lord of the Rings). Shots may be fired skywood and revellers then share in hot spiced cider with sops of bread from a communal wassail bowl. In Shakepeare’s time mead created by fermenting honey with water with roasted crab apples would have been the wassail of choice. So forget dry January, become a wassailer!