I love trees, and was truly enamored at the thought of singing (and drinking) to their health. The word 'Wassail' is derived from the Old Norse 'Ves heill', from whence came the Old English salutation 'Wes Hal', meaning 'Be thou hale'. As it stems from Anglo/Saxon, it is thought to predate the Norman Conquest.
Although it is a rather riotous celebration, it's taken quite seriously by those who depend on a good harvest for their livelihood. Especially in the English counties of Devon, Somerset, Dorset Goucestershire, and Herefordshire.
Reciting poems and singing to the trees was meant to promote their health and insure a good harvest for the coming year.
The chanting of incantations, banging on drums and pots and pans and even firing a volley into the branches was meant to drive away evil spirits.
I've always associated Wassailing with caroling during the Christmas season. The wassailing of trees, however, was celebrated on Twelfth Night (January 6, or the evening of January 5) or to be strictly correct on "Old Twelvey Night" (January 17) the true date before the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752.
This year, why not extend your holiday festivities, and come January honor the trees that give us shelter and shade, bear fruit to be savored, and clean the air we breathe.
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In search of the truth, Garrick Allen, one of Britain’s first war correspondents also journeys to the Crimean Peninsula. To him the soldiers seem all but abandoned by Queen and country, and as he smokes his cheroots and makes friends with a bottle, he writes his bold but honest dispatches for The Times. Not wanting anything more than to finish his job and go home, Garrick is blind-sided by a nurse with attitude who offers him a new slant on life and a reason to love.
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