This year the traditional, rural ceremonial celebration of the wassail will come to visit on a mid-summer’s night at Port Eliot Festival. The wassail is an ancient activity, its aim to ward off evil spirits from a fruit bearing tree or one of symbolic significance, and to encourage good health and good harvest for the remainder of the year. This is achieved through merriment and noisemaking, the latter to ward of unwanted demons from our lands, and the former to toast the evening and the tree.
Its a wild rumpus, and completely inclusive. Free of charge, with no need to sign up beforehand. The chosen tree will be ‘named’ after the first name of the youngest member of the congregation, and the surname of the eldest. All in-between will have the chance to become the wassail king or queen, chosen by means of whoever finds the token in their apple cake.
The evening will start with a flame torch procession following a single beating drum into a clearing in the wood, where the ceremony will begin, sound-tracked by a fiddle player. Afterwards, traditional wassail verses will be sung. The ceremony will last approximately 1 hour, and will give all that come a memorable taster of an ancient rural celebration, in stunning surroundings. The wassail will be led by Dan Heath, master of ceremonies at East Devon Wassails, Founder of The Cider Box, Judge at British Cider Championships, and passionate rural mischief maker.