Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This Week's Word


Wassailers in England singing to the apple trees

In class, we learned about the Engish tradition of "wassailing", where people, (wassailers), visit the apple orchards on Twelfth Night - January 5th - and sing to the trees there and beat them in order to ward off evil spirits.

But "wassailing" can also refer to the tradition of going from door to door singing carols. There is a very well-known carol called "The Wassail Song". Curiously, unlike other Christmas carols, it does not celebrate the birth of Christ. Instead, it makes direct reference to the hugh social gap that exists in the land between the rich and the poor. Listen to it here. You can read a variation of the lyrics here.

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