Wassailing The Apple Trees – Henfield
Wassailing the Apple Trees or Apple Howling as it is known in Sussex is a festival to bless the apple trees to ensure a good crop in the coming year. The event takes place on Twelfth Night after dark. A horn is blown and Morris Men form a torch lit procession to the oldest and strongest apple tree where they form a ring.
Here’s to thee, old apple tree; may’st thou bud, may’st thou bow!
Hats full! Caps full! Bushel, bushel, bags full!
Sacks full! Barns full! And our pockets full!
Cider is poured on the roots as an offering and cake or toast soaked in cider or wassail (mulled ale or cider) is left on the tree to encourage the birds (who eat harmful insects etc).
There is then a traditional making of noise which was originally to scare away demons and awaken the spirits of the tree.