NOISY revellers are expected in a Headless Cross orchard at this weekend's wassail.
Long before England celebrated Christmas, the custom of wassailing was practised in orchards to ensure a fruitful harvest later in the year.
Headless Cross Community Orchard celebrates its third annual wassail this Saturday, January 11. Beginning at The Rocklands Social Club at 7.30pm, the procession will lead to Headless Cross Green where a ceremony to awaken the trees will take place.
Orchard volunteer Alistair Waugh said: "Bring your saucepans, drums, noisy neighbours and tankards, we're set for another loud Wassail.
"This ancient folk tradition is a reminder of our connection with nature and the harvest it provides. It's a great way of celebrating our orchard and digging into the depths of Worcestershire customs. Community orchards are one of the ways that local people can ensure an abundance of fruit into the future, whilst keeping tradition and old fruit varieties alive."
Led by Bromsgrove’s Town Crier Kevin Ward, the ceremony will involve an executioner and this year's Wassail Queen, Holly Pound, who will drape cider-soaked toast in the tree boughs. Hot spiced cider and juice will be available, with music provided by Arrow Valley Brass Band, including the apple-related song ‘Juice-Alem’.
Last year’s Wassail drew more than 100 people, including folklorists from Essex, Hedingham Fair, researching their new book about wassailing. A two page article about Headless Cross Community Orchard appears in the book, which will soon be available at Redditch Library.
For details of other events at Headless Cross Community Orchard, visit headlessxorchard.org.uk.