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Page last updated at 11:16 GMT, Friday, 15 January 2010
Wild wassail comes to Bristol
Red apples in a tree
In Britain over 6000 varieties of apple are known but only a few remain

The ancient tradition of wassailing is coming to Bristol with a special ceremony at Willsbridge Mill.

Avon Wildlife Trust's annual event will take place on Sunday, January 24, and will also launch the Trust's 30th anniversary year.

Participants will splash cider on apple tree roots, place toast in branches and play giant scrap musical instruments.

The free event starts at 2pm and will start with the crowning of the Wassail Queen and Holly Boy.

The word Wassail comes from the Anglo Saxon, 'Wes Hal', which means to be in good health or good fortune - wassailing orchards is an age old tradition associated with the UK's fruit growing areas.

The idea behind it is to protect fruit trees from evil spirits and to ensure they bore a plentiful crop in the coming season.

Ruth Worsley from Avon Wildlife Trust said: "This is a magical ceremony for both young and old.

"[It] helps us to reconnect with the natural world and its marvellous seasonal rhythms at a time of year when both wildlife and people need cheering up."

Special guests at this year's event are morris dancers from 'Green Shoots' at Longwell Green Primary School and Somerset Morris who will provide dances throughout the afternoon and at the ceremony.

Avon Wildlife Trust say that in the last 30 years, 70% of our traditional orchards have been felled to make way for more intensive farming methods.

Apple growers prepare for Wassail
18 Jan 10 |  Things to do
Ancient tradition restores link
23 Dec 09 |  History


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