my wassailing bowl

8 Jan
So yes, this year I did go to Hazelbury Plucknett especially for the wassailing.
This year there was a valiant attempt to play down some of the more pagan elements of the ceremony (such as the libation of cider and the gun, for instance), but we still stood around a bonfire with a man, his accordian and his beard, and sang incomprehensible songs loudly and confidently to a tune we were making up as we went along. In the rain.
It’s getting ever more awkward trying to explain what I am doing in Chiselborough to a populace that doesn’t see the ironic charm of their village events. Last year, a lady there recognised me and said, “weren’t you down here for Tower Day?”, to which I very hastily, and with a little too much vigour replied, “look, I didn’t know there was going to be any wassailing.” I was quite relieved that she wasn’t there this time around or I would have found myself sheepishly explaining that on this occasion yes, I was fully aware of the singing to the trees and the celebrating of Epiphany, and had indeed travelled down especially. Now I’m wondering whether I can pull off going to another Tower Day without it seeming like I am mocking their way of life, or like I am some complete loon of a tourist.
We also acquired a bottle of the cider that our previous year’s capable wassailing produced, how about that?
So I just thought I would share with you some of the verses of the “Gloucester Wassail (amended)”. I don’t know how it has been amended or why, and as I said, heaven only knows the correct tune. I see that it includes references to important wassail elements like the piece of toast, but quite what a wassailiing bowl and a dabbinett are, I know not. Answers on a postcard.
Wassail! Wassail! All over the town,
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;
With the wassailing bowl we’ll drink to thee.
Here’s to our horse, and to his right ear,
God send our master a happy new year;
A happy new year as e’er he did see,
With my wassailing bowl I drink to thee.
So here is to the fruit trees, they reach for the sky,
God send our mistress a good Christmas pie;
A good Christmas pie as e’er I did see,
With our wassailing bowl I drink to thee.
Here’s to the dabbinett, and the apples they bear,
Pray God send us all a happy new year;
A happy new year as e’er we did see,
With our wassailing bowl I drink to thee.
Then here’s to the girl in the lily white smock,
Who tripped to the door and slipped back the lock;
Who tripped to the door and pulled back the pin,
To let these jolly wassailers in.
Well, indeed.
IMGP1969 Errr yeah and then we wassailed Bulan with toast, the Haselbury Plucknett cider and a water pistol…

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