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Page last updated at 10:15 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010
Apple growers in Somerset prepare for Wassail
Carhampton Wassail
The Wassail at Carhampton dates back 150 years

Wassailing is an ancient pagan tradition held on Old Twelfth Night which falls on 17 January.

Although many are held on this date, others observe the Gregorian calendar where Twelfth Night falls on 6 January.

The Wassail is held to scare off worms and maggots that are regarded as 'evil' spirits and to attract the 'good' spirit embodied by the robin.

The ceremony takes place around the oldest orchard tree where it is toasted and traditional Wassail songs are sung.

The noisiest part of the ceremony is after the singing when gunshots are fired into the orchards (although this particular practice isn't always followed everywhere) to create as much noise as possible to scare off the evil spirits.

Once this is completed, a piece of toast soaked in cider is hung on the branches to attract the good spirits and cider is sprinkled around the roots of the tree.

There are several Wassail songs which are sung during the evening and this is usually followed by enjoying one of the products of the orchard - cider.

Wassail events

Here is a list of some of the events taking place this month:

Holway Park Primary School, Taunton

The staff and children from Holway Park Primary School are holding a wassailing ceremony on Friday, 22 January 2010 at 9.30am. The school was built on the site of an old orchard and the wassailing will take place around the one remaining tree.

Wild Wassail at Willsbridge Mill, near Bristol

This event is being held on Sunday 24 January at the headquarters of Avon Wildlife Trust. Click on Wild Wassail to get more details.

Kilmersdon Wassail

Maintaining the ancient tradition of Kilmersdon Wassail people can meet at Kilmersdon Village Hall on Saturday 16 January at 12.30pm where ploughman's lunches will be available and the 2010 Wassail Queen crowned.

After that you'll make your way to the Community Orchard nearby where the ceremony will take place, then the Old School House for tea and apple cake.

For further information contact Martin Horler on 01761 437372.

The Butchers Arms, Carhampton

In a break with tradition, the Wassail will be held on Saturday 16 January at 8pm, with homemade cider on tap, and local folk singers providing the entertainment.

This is the longest running Wassail in the county and dates back 150 years.

Barrington House

On Sunday 17 January, the National Trust property will celebrate Wassailing, with loud singing and lively dancing.

Gates open at Barrington Court at 5pm. Last admission is 8pm. Adult tickets are £3.50, children under 18 are free. Dress for a night outside, and please bring a torch.

Charity Wassail at Rich's Cider Farm in Highbridge - cancellation

This was due to take place on Saturday 16 January but organisers have decided to cancel the event due to a combination of the icy conditions at the venue and the poor advance ticket sales.

Organisers believe this is down to people waiting to see what the weather is like before committing themselves.

Plans are underway to look at the feasibility of putting on a summer event in June. Ticket refunds are available directly through the vendor.

Court hotel

A small Wassail ceremony will be held at The Court Hotel, BA3 4SA on the 23rd January 2010 at approximately 19.30 followed by the Mangled Wurzels. Free Entry. Contact The Court Hotel 01761 232237

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