In Castle tradition we kicked off the start of the year with a wassail; marking the beginning of the orchard harvesting year and welcoming good fortunes for the year ahead.
Having escaped the snow of the previous day, we celebrated in chilly weather and began the bonfire early. Ida, our Garden Manager, led the proceedings, encouraging arrivals to fashion musical instruments ready for wassailing – using bottle tops, elastic bands, ribbons, sticks, and tin cans. The gathered crowd showed gratitude for the earth’s systems that support all life - the sun, water, air and soil. Meanwhile children huddled together in a heart frame fashioned from pruned apple twigs and leaves, demonstrating their love for the world’s habitats and places.
Having shown our gratitude, we proceeded to waken the trees from their wintery slumber – banging drums and shaking shakers. A procession ran through the garden, first the children, then the adults, past the apple, pear and nut trees, blackberry and strawberry plants, kiwi, apricot and fig trees. To awaken all the fruit trees in the garden, and no doubt the surrounding area as well!
Children were encouraged to hang cider soaked toast in the trees for the birds. Traditionally it was believed that robins represent the good spirits of the trees.
The event ended with a warming drink by the fire - a toast to the trees, mulled cider and hot garden fruits cordial were heartily enjoyed around the bonfire’s glow. An extra touch of magic was brought to the event by the Castle Choir; their Wassail song surely encouraged a fantastic harvest this coming year!
Thanks to all who joined us for the Wassail, and a big thank you to Charlie and the Castle Choir.
The Castle Choir is open to everyone, they meet on Monday evenings. You can find out more here.