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Waes hal

On Sunday 20th January 2013 the Grimsby Morris men returned to our orchard for our 6th and their 31st annual Waes-hal. It was a very cold and snowy morning, but we still had an impressive turn out.The Anglo-Saxon 'waes hael' means to be healthy. Wassailing apple trees was thought to encourage a good crop. Family and friends gatherered in the orchards, usually on the Old Twelfth Night (January 17). There would be singing, dancing and drinking; frightening off the evil spirits whilst praising and toasting the 'Apple Gods'.

The roads were covered in snow and the weather was bitter with a freezing wind so we didn't expect to see many people. However, cars slowly began to arrive and soon quite a crowd had gathered. A bonfire was lit to symbolize the heat and light of the coming summer.There was a merry and noisy procession around the trees, a toast to Pomona, the Goddess of Apples, and lots of noise to frighten off the evil spirits and wake the sleeping trees. Pieces of cider-soaked toast were placed on the branches of the trees for the robins, the guardian spirits of the trees. There was more dancing and, of course, more cider and a thoroughly good time was had by all. Thank you to everyone who made the effort to come and join us. It was good to see so many people on such very cold morning.

The festivities then moved on to the Prussian Queen. We would like to thank the Grimsby Morris men for another thoroughly enjoyable morming. There is always a wonderful atmosphere and it is fun for the whole family. Like everyone else we didn't have a very very good crop last year, so we hope this year's Waes hael will help produce a bumper crop in 2013. We look forward to their return next year. Please come along and join in.