Keeping the old customs alive

Iden 4
Iden 4

THE ancient Sussex tradition of wassailing apple trees was kept alive at Rye Foreign on Saturday night.

Several hundred people gathered at the Royal Oak pub to observe a number of winter traditions including Border Morris dancing and a Sussex Mummers Play.

Wassail is an Anglo Saxon toast meaning ‘good health’ and the act of wassailing trees involves dowsing their roots with cider and making loud bangs to scare away evil spirits, encouraging trees to produce a good crop of apples the following autumn. People then pass around a wassail bowl of warm spiced cider before gathering in the pub after the ceremony to sing traditional songs.

The annual event is organised by Whatlington man John Beeching. A large contingent came over from Rye including Bonfire Society members and members of the Rye Longbowmen.