WASSAILING THE APPLE TREES
[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]
should be interested to hear what is the authority of Mr. E. T. Brown for stating that the old custom of " Wassailing the Apple-trees " takes place on Christmas Eve. Up to a few years ago this superstition obtained in the neighbourhood of my old home in West Somerset, but the date chosen was always January 17th, the eve of Old Twelfth Day. Various writers have mentioned this custom and assigned various dates, but I have never heard of Christmas Eve as being one of them.
An extract from Hone states :-
" This is the eve of Epiphany, or Twelfth-night eve. . . In certain parts of Devonshire, the farmer, attended by his workmen, with a large pitcher of cider, goes to the orchard this evening, and there, encircling one of the best bearing trees, they drink the fol- lowing toast three times :-
" ` Here's to thee, old apple tree, Hence thou may'st bud, and whence thou may'st blow ! And whence thou may'st bear apples enow !
Hats full Caps full I Bushel—bushel--sack's full, And my pockets full too ! Huzza ! ' "
Brand speaks of it as " Apple-Howling " and says it is a custom in Sussex, Devon and elsewhere, on New Year's Eve, of wassailing the orchards.—I am, Sir, &c.,