Saturday, 17 January 2009
Details on tonights wassail at Carhampton and at Barrington Court
The West Country Wassail traditionally takes place tonight, January 17, the old Twelfth Night before Britain changed from the Julian to Gregorian calendar in 1752. Nowadays, the tradition of the wassail is not only kept at Carhampton (a separate wassail takes place earlier on the same night at the village's community orchard), but elsewhere in Somerset and beyond. The format of the ceremony is also fluid: if no one is available to fire a shotgun, pots and pans are banged together, the idea being to make as much noise as possible. The majority of the wassails are revivals and even used by some cider-makers as a kind of countryside corporate event. Yet, whatever the motive or format, interest in the West Country wassail is growing as more people become aware of the traditions that governed our pre-Industrial Age life.