Very occasionally the activities of my Changling – little un – and my love of folklore collide. Today is one such day.
I get very little out of them usually, partly because they’re six, partly due to their condition, but usually it comes in the most surprising ways. Today, at bedtime, they drew a picture of what happened in forest school – a wassail!
Held on the 12th Night (what was celebrated in SW of England traditionally on the 17th January) and named after Old Norse ves heil and the Old English was hál: ‘be you healthy’, communities would gather around the trees to ensure a good apple crop.
Toast drenched in cider was hung in the tree, and in more recent times I’ve heard stories of the crowd taking pot shots at the toast with shotguns to try and knock it out of the tree – all while drinking cider…
Obviously little un’s Wassail was a more sober affair, but I was told how a king and queen were chosen and they had to make loud noises to “drive away the bad spirits”. By all accounts my little changling was good at this part, and made sure they “went back twice” to make noise to help the trees.
I love the fact a new generation of Devonian children are learning this, around their own school apple trees.