Wed, 08 Jan 2020
VISITORS to Thatcham’s Nature Discovery Centre are being encouraged to make some noise at the annual Wassail on Sunday (January 12).
The free family event celebrates the centre’s community orchard and encourages a good crop of fruit for the year’s harvest.
Wassailing, from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Waes Hael’ which means ‘be well’, traditionally took place in cider-producing regions of England.
Villagers would visit their orchards armed with musical instruments or pots and pans to wake the tree spirit, frighten away any evil spirits and encourage a good harvest.
This year’s Wassail will be led by the Kennet Morris Men, assisted by the King and Queen of the Wassail, who will be crowned on the day.
Visitors can also enjoy mulled cider and sing to ensure that the tree spirit is roused from its slumbers.
Community wildlife officer Jone Ayres said: “Last year’s Wassail was a good size, with around 100 local families taking part – let’s see if we can do even better in 2020.
“It’s a great opportunity to banish the post-Christmas winter blues by joining us in some boisterous traditional folk fun, to let off steam, sing, dance, eat and drink, all in the name of a good harvest for our community orchard.”
The orchard has become the discovery centre’s hub for folk traditions.
As well as the annual Wassail, the Friends of the Orchard hold other seasonal celebrations, including a summer solstice picnic and the popular Apple Day.
Timings for the event are:
1.30pm: Make tin-can drums and shakers in the visitor centre.
1.50pm: Crown the King and Queen of the Wassail outside the visitor centre.
2pm: Noisy procession to the Community Orchard led by the Kennet Morris Men. Wassail event in the orchard, followed by mulled apple juice/cider and cakes.
This is a free event, though donations to help care for the orchard will be much appreciated.