Editor's Note: The following is a news release issued by Terhune Orchards.
Raise a glass of cider with the Mount family on Sunday, Jan. 27, from 1 to 4 p.m. as we celebrate the apple trees that give us our wonderful apples. The party is free and open to the public.
The annual Wassailing Party is a fun gathering that follows a British tradition. Wassail is an ancient Saxon word that means “health be to you,” and it’s the health of the trees that we will celebrate.
One of Terhune Orchards’ most popular events, the festivities will include dancing and singing by the Handsome Molly Dancers and reenactments of traditional old English rituals.
The Handsome Molly Dancers will dance among the trees and perform traditional British chants to drive away evil spirits. Everyone joins in with chanting and music making, hanging gifts of cider-soaked bread in the tree branches while chanting words of praise for the New Year.
Live music will be provided by the group Spice Punch. The group will play traditional music using violins and flutes of many kinds all afternoon in Terhune’s farm store. Free refreshments include hot cider and homemade cider donuts.
Visitors can warm themselves next to a campfire (roasting marshmallows included) or in the farm store. Our winery tasting room will be open and we will be serving hot mulled wine and snacks.
Wassailing is an ancient tradition from the cider-making regions of southern and western England. It is usually held on Twelfth Night. People would gather in the apple orchard and perform rituals to drive away evil spirits and ensure a successful apple crop for the next year. Guns were fired through the branches to scare off any evil spirits lurking there, and the tree’s health was toasted with warm cider, passed in a bucket.
The custom was especially important during a period when laborer’s wages were partially paid in hard apple cider. Landlords needed a strong apple crop to attract good workers. Wassailing was meant to keep the tree safe from evil spirits until the next year’s apples appeared.
Terhune Orchards is located at 330 Cold Soil Rd. in Lawrence Township. Plenty of parking is available at the farm. For more information call (609) 924-1310.