On Tuesday January 26, despite the onset of rain, Farlington Belles, the school’s Morris side, gathered around the school’s apple trees to perform a traditional ‘wassail’.
They dunked bread in apple juice and put it in the branches, decorated the tree with ribbons, read a poem to the trees and then danced around them, culminating in a hullabaloo, ably aided by Nursery and Reception pupils. All of this is to ward off bad spirits and bugs that may hinder next year’s crop, and to give thanks for this past year’s crop.
Wassailing is a traditional ceremony that involves singing and drinking the health of trees on Twelfth Night in the hope that they might better thrive. The purpose of wassailing is to awaken the apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the autumn.
The dance firms the tree’s roots against winter winds and the noise scares away evil spirits.
This is a traditional ceremony that has been performed for over 1000 years. The Morris dancers, some of whom only started this term, all enjoyed themselves and look forward to their next dance display in Horsham in May.
Report and picture contributed by Farlington School.