The Cyder Market links to cider Wassailing.

Wassailing  The Cyder Market links to cider Wassailing.

“Here's to thee, old apple tree, That blooms well, bears well. Hats full, caps full, Three bushel bags full, An' all under one tree. Hurrah! Hurrah!”

Then the assembled crowd will sing and shout and bang drums and pots & pans and generally make a terrible racket until the gunsmen give a great final volley through the branches to make sure the work is done and then off to the next orchard. Perhaps unbeknown to the general public, this ancient English tradition is still very much thriving today. 

The word Wassail refers to several related traditions; first and foremost wassailing is an ancient southern English tradition that is performed with the intention of ensuring a goo d crop of cider apples for the next year's harvest. It also refers to both the salute 'Waes Hail', the term itself is a contraction of the Middel English phrasewæs hæl, meaning literally 'good health' or 'be you healthy' and to the drink of wassail which is a hot mulled cider traditionally drunk as an integral part of the wassail ceremony.  (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wassail)

The West Country is the most famous and largest cider producing region of the country and some of the most important wassails are held annually in Carhampton (Somerset) and Whimple (Devon), both on 17 January (old Twelfth Night).

Private readings about people in Somerset in the 1800s revealed that inhabitants of Somerset practised the old Wassailing Ceremony, singing the following lyrics after drinking the cider until they were "merry and gay:"


"Apple tree, apple tree, we all come to wassail thee, Bear this year and next year to bloom and to blow, Hat fulls, cap fulls, three cornered sack fills, Hip, Hip, Hip, hurrah, Holler biys, holler hurrah."

(Wikipedia- Wassailing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wassailing)

The Orchard-Visiting Wassail  
(see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wassailing)

In the cider-producing West of England (primarily the counties of Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire) wassailing also refers to drinking (and singing) the health of trees in the hopes that they might better thrive.

An old rhyme goes: “Wassaile the trees, that they may beare / You many a Plum and many a Peare: / For more or lesse fruits they will bring, / As you do give them Wassailing.”

The purpose of wassailing is to awake the cider apple trees and to scare away eveil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn.{"England In Particular", Common Ground 2007} The ceremonies of each wassail vary from village to village but they generally all have the same core elements. A wassail King and Queen lead the song and/or a processional tune to be played/sung from one orchard to the next, the wassail Queen will then be lifted up into the boughs of the tree where she will place toast soaked in Wassail from the Clayen Cup as a gift to the tree spirits (and to show the fruits  created the previous year). Then an incantation is usually recited such as

Wassailing-   National Association of Cider Makers

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Wassailing Through History-  Colonial Williamsburg

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Wassailing! Notes On The Songs And Traditions

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"Here We Come a-wassailing"- 

The King's Singers, YouTube

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Wassailing- British Christmas Customs and Traditions

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