Orchard wassails in Scotland

Photo of an orchard in winter

By Philipp Reiner from unsplash.com

Last updated 09 Feb 2017

Since our collection of Scottish Apple Day events last year turned out to be so popular, we thought it may be useful to put together a list of Scottish New Year orchard wassails.

Wassailing is an age-old tradition of toasting good health of people and fruit trees on the 12th night after Christmas. Historic UK tells us that in the case of the latter:  “The wassailing, or blessing of the fruit trees, involves drinking and singing to the health of the trees in the hope that they will provide a bountiful harvest in the autumn. This ancient custom is still practiced across the country today, and is particularly popular in the cider-producing areas of England.”

Recently, orchard wassails have been undergoing a bit of a revival as they are a great midwinter event to brighten up community orchard social calendars alongside, now firmly established, autumn Apple Days. In Scotland, Greener Kirkcaldy has been one of the groups leading this revival, with a well established annual wassail at the Community Orchard at their Ravenscraig Walled Garden. Their blog post from last year gives us a nice rundown of the tradition here.

Singing to your orchard trees is an essential part of a proper Wassail and Jane Lewis is running a singing workshop at Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh at the end of the month to help any novices. We have heard that there are some great new, local Scottish tunes included alongside the more traditional Somerset materials!

Below is the list of events we have compiled so far – please let us know about any others!

Date Town – Area Event name Organisation Link to event info
14-Jan-2017 Cupar – Fife Sustainable Cupar Wassail Sustainable Cupar Click here for more info
14-Jan-2017 Stirling – Stirlingshire Apple pruning and wassailing Transition Stirling Click here for more info
15-Jan-2017 Jedburgh – The Borders Crailing Community Orchard Wassail Crailing Community Orchard Click here for more info
20-Jan-2017 Buckhaven – Fife First Apple Tree Wassail CLEAR Buckhaven Click here for more info
21-Jan-2017 Kirkcaldy – Fife Traditional Apple Wassail Greener Kirckaldy Click here for more info
21-Jan-2017 Edinburgh Gracie Winter Warmer Gracemount Grow Stronger Click here for more info
21-Jan-2017 Edinburgh Wassailing song workshop with Jane Lewis Scottish Storytelling Centre and Scotland Sings Click here for more info
3-Feb-2017 Edinburgh Apple Wassail Celebration North Edinburgh Arts Click here for more info
4-Feb-2017 Glasgow Food Forest Wassail Alexandra Park Food Forest and Helping Britain Blossom Click here for more info
12-Feb-2017 Tayport – Fife Family Fruit Tree Walk Wassail PLANT Click here for more info