Being a centre of cider production Herefordshire has retained the tradition of wassailing at the beginning of each new year.
This old pagan tradition incorporates the Roman goddess of orchards, Pomona, in its rituals and is becoming more popular every year. The event involves offerings of toast and cider, firing of shotguns, Morris dancing and copious drinking of cider by the revelers.
Some wassails are small events just for locals so I’m not going to publicise those. There are however a few more public wassails although these too can reach capacity or be affected by the weather.
Saturday 3rd January: Starts at Weston’s in Much Marcle around 6.30 pm. Dancing by Silurian Border Morris at 7.00 pm, then torchlit procession to wassail an orchard. Return to Weston’s for more music plus a Mummers’ play.
Tuesday 6th January (Twelfth Night): Leominster Morris meet at 7.00 pm at the Nags Head in Canon Pyon. Again a procession by torchlight to a nearby orchard, returning to the pub for music, dance and a Mummers’ play.
Saturday 17th January (Old Twelfth Night): Normally Foxwhelp Morris will wassail an orchard in the area of Preston-on-Wye. Music and dance afterwards at the Yew Tree.
Saturday 17th January (Old Twelfth Night): Colwall Orchard Group will be wassailing in the Colwall Community Orchard. See colwallorchardgroup.org.
Thanks to Herefordshire CAMRA for most of the info. Liberated from their excellent Hopvine magazine.