Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wassail Night on the Island

Bill's last Christmas/New Year's card came to life last weekend on Ward's Island. Our friend, Q, invited us to help wassail her newly planted apple trees. Do you know the wassailing tradition?
It has two meanings: one is what we would call carolling: walking from door to door singing Christmas carols, the other is to take the same activity into the orchards, singing to the trees, scaring away evil spirits with loud noises and pouring cider on the roots to ensure a good harvest next year.
From the Ward's Island Ferry boat we saw people out on the Lake Ontario ice. To me they look uncomfortably far from shore.
We traveled with our friends Shelley and Geordie.
Lake Ontario has frozen over except this path of chunky ice between the two docks.
Ward's Island dock.
Some devilry afoot?
Devils One and Two at your service! (Thanks, Shelley for these two pics!)
Q had made a Somerset Cider cake with a pea and a bean. Bill got the bean, which made him the Lord of Misrule for the evening. He ordered everyone outside so the ceremony could begin.
Haley got the pea, becoming the Lady of Misrule. She led in the singing of the first Wassail song.
Here's to thee, old apple tree,
Whence thou mayest bud.
And whence thou mayest blow!
And whence thou mayest bear apples enow!
Hats full! Caps full!
Bushel, bushel, sacks full,
And my pockets full too! Huzza!
The night lifted into a weird half light.
We hung toast in the branches of Q's two fine apple trees and danced between them
Making as much noise as we could.
The Lady of the Manor (Q) began the final invocation
And vanished.
We continued the dance.
Sparks began to fly between the trees.
The Lord of Misrule called on the obstructive spirits in the earth
to rise up out of the ground
and disperse.
clearing the way for the Lady of the Manor to return to her fine young trees and lead the final song.


  1. Wow - you really captured the magic of the night. The photos are really wonderful... I think the lord of misrule must have some hand in that! I like that disappearing act! You guys really made the night such fun!

  2. The vanishing act and Lord/Lady of misrule made for a very magical evening. Those apple trees were in good hands. What fun!!

  3. Thanks for sharing those very dramatic photos - amazing!

  4. We had so much fun at your Wassail ceremony, Q! I think people will be eager for their chance to be Lady or Lord of Misrule in upcoming years I bet. A magical evening and obviously photogenic.