The Midsummer Sampler: block 3
This was the December instalment of our block of the month and we briefly imagined our summer setting in the bleak midwinter...
the Orchard Cottage block
The orchard, brimming with blossom in spring, an oasis of cool shade at midsummer and laden with rosy apples in the autumn, is the scene of ancient ritual in the depths of winter: 'wassailing' trees dates back to at least the twelfth century in the cider-making counties of England.
The word 'wassail' comes from the Anglo-Saxon Waes Hael — that is, Good Health – and on Twelfth Night (January 5th) farmers and their families would feast on hot cakes (I like the sound of those) and cider, then go out into the orchard and alternately serenade and browbeat the apple trees to ward off bad spirits and encourage the trees to provide a bountiful crop in the year ahead. The revelry continued with songs, dances and more libations (for the trees and and the revellers).
Whether you intend to serenade your apple trees or just your friends, you can find a wonderful recipe for mulled cider by Karen of the Lavender & Lovage blog, here.
Next time we will be exploring the country lanes and calling in on our friend, the Shepherd, in his cosy hut,