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Wassailing Apple-Trees in Devonshire

Source: The Illustrated London News, Jan. 12, 1861, p.36

THE ancient custom of wassailing fruit-trees with hot cider on Twelfth Eve, though gradually dying away, still exists in some parts of Devonshire. The farmer proceeds with his men to the orchard, bearing a large can or milk-pail full of hot cider, with roasted apples hissing in it. They then encircle one of the finest trees, and chant the following quaint doggerel rhymes, or some variation thereof :

Here's to thee
Old apple-tree!
Whence thou may bud
And whence thou mayst blow,
And whence thou mayst bear
Apples enow;
Hats full ! Caps full !
Bushels, bushels, sacks full !
And my pockets full too !
Huzza ! huzza !

This rude ditty having been sung or chanted three times, the men's horns are filled and they drink success to the next crop, and finish by throwing a quantity of cider over the tree for luck. Sometimes the rustic party go armed with guns, which, charged with powder only, they fire off amidst the branches.

Wassailing the Apple Tree