If you are feeling a bit beaten down by the dreary weather this January, you could start off the new year with a touch of wassailing.
‘What is that?’ I hear you ask. Well, wassailing is the centuries old tradition of encouraging good spirits into orchards, securing a bountiful harvest for the coming year. Such a tradition is often celebrated around Christmas time and into the new year.
With its roots in paganism, you can expect wassailing to involve colourful garments, much talk of spirits, and sharing of food and drink. Revellers will bang pots together, chant rhymes and songs, and cause a ‘hullabaloo’ – such gaiety had a twofold meaning. First, was to ward off bad spirits from the orchards, and second, was to wish those in your community good health for the year ahead. Spending time with those we love, and forming meaningful connections, has an undoubted and much studied link to health outcomes – the pagans really knew what they were doing. In fact, the word ‘wassailing’ itself is thought to have derived from the old English word for health.
Modern wassailing still occurs today – maybe there is a group somewhere near you that you could join and cause chaos within. Scream into the night! Bang together a wok and a spoon! Make music for the trees!
Happy new year!