In Somerset for Old Twelvey Night
© Guy Edwardes/Minden Picture
Mist on the moors. The custom of wassailing
Somewhere under that dense fog, the people of Somerset may be marching from house to house, singing songs and dancing, and asking for a drink or snack in return. If that sounds like Christmas carolling, you’re right. But it’s the ancient tradition of wassailing – a practice that usually takes place on Twelfth Night, 5 or 6 January. So why do the people living in this farmland moor wassail on 17 January? Because in Somerset (and other cider-producing areas of England), locals observe the pre-Gregorian calendar Twelfth Night, which falls on today’s date. They may even stage an ‘apple wassail’ with a trip to a local cider orchard, to sing and make noise for a good harvest in the new year.