Sunday 14 January saw around two hundred members of the local community come together to celebrate the annual Wassail at St Ives Community Orchard - an ancient tradition that was revived last year and, like the orchard itself, has grown healthily over the past twelve months. After weeks of incessant rain, the day and event were blessed with an appearance from the sun.
The Wassail serves to awaken the apple trees from their winter slumber and to bless them with mulled cider and pieces of toast that are dipped in the brew and then attached to the trees. It also involves a lot of noise! Those gathered made one helluva racket with drums, horns, pipes, shouting and anything else that would help awaken the trees and drive the dark elements back into the undergrowth. Everyone gathered around the Sunset Apple tree that was planted in 2013 to start the ceremony which was led by Alan Jones with members of the Cornwall School of Mystery and Magic and involved blessings, the singing of the Wassailing song and much shouting of 'Huzzah'! Everyone then processed around the orchard, weaving in and out of the trees, waking them up in fine fashion, giving them a sip of cider and placing soaked toast on their budding branches.
Many entered the spirit by making and wearing ivy and willow wreaths. The Bamaluz Bootleggers & Phoenix entertained with the singing of traditional songs, warm mulled cider was provided by St Ives Cider and delicious pizzas were cooked onsite in the cob oven. All-in-all, a wonderful community event in the community orchard - a fun, family day of celebration in the local landscape and one that not only harken back to ancient traditions but also establishes new ones.
Article written by Neil Scott-Anderson