Happy Twelfth Night to the Trees

I’ve always loved Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” so much so that I named my very first laptop Sebastian! I had heard of the Twelve Days of Christmas and what they represent, but I never knew the following information about wassailing the trees. For that matter, I never knew what wassailing was. 🙂 We don’t have any of our intended fruit trees planted yet, as we moved here in November, so I’m just dedicating today’s post to all the trees, near and far. Thank you for giving us oxygen, wisdom, beauty, shade, shelter, forests, fairy tales, wood, and nourishment for ourselves and the soil. Thank you for standing tall and silent among us, and thank you for whispering in the wind. Thank you for inspiring Ogham and Runes and for reminding us that our world is such a magical place!

The World Tree Card from the Wildwood Tarot

The World Tree Card from the Wildwood Tarot

David found this on yesterday’s Madison Permaculture Group’s email blast:

“From a friend, Genie Ogden:

“Tonight is 12th night Eve. The 6th of Jan. is 12th Night. This is from very old English book, published in 1907, that belonged to grandmother:

“‘Wassailing the Trees

“‘Twelfth Night Eve, or “Wassail Eve,” as it is sometimes called, is a rustic festival in England, and one of the customs observed was that of wassailing the trees to ensure their future fruitfulness.

“‘Wassail the trees, that they may beare
You many a plum, and many a peare;
For more or less fruits they will bring
As you do give them wassailing.’

“As late as the eighteenth century, it is stated that in certain parts of Devonshire “the farmer, attended by his workmen, with a large pitcher of cider, goes to the orchard on this evening: and there, encircling one of the best bearing trees, they drink the following toast three times:–

“‘Here’s to thee, old apple tree!
Whence thou mayst bud, and whence thou mayst blow!
And whence thou mayst bear apples enow!
Hats full! caps full!
Bushel, bushel — sacks full!
And my pockets full too! Huzza!’

“‘Some,’ it is added, ‘are so superstitious as to believe that if they neglect this custom the trees will bear no apples that year.'”

* * *

(Laura again: So … trees, I am one evening late, but hopefully this public service announcement will make up for that. Here’s to thee, old trees!)

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by su on January 7, 2013 at 1:11 am

    I join you in your ‘thankyous to trees’….my understanding is that the Native Americans had no word for ‘trees’; they call them ‘Standing People’.



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