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Publication Date Nov 2013
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"Wassail!" a drinking salutation from Pagan Europe was part of the English language before 1066. But what is the custom of "Wassailing"?
We trace its development from Medieval origins, when the Norse "Waes Hael!" ("Be healthy!") rang through courtly celebrations of the Twelve Days of Christmas, using ornate Wassail Bowls brimming with spiced drinks. From this came visiting and begging customs blessing houses and people, farms, animals and crops, and the ‘apple tree wassailing’ we know today.
By the mid twentieth century wassailing had declined and nearly vanished. Then a handful of ‘Wassail’ songs led folk enthusiasts to reawaken the ancient custom, researching it and with cider enthusiasts returning it to its heartlands of Devon & Somerset; Herefordshire, Gloucestershire & Worcestershire and Kent & Sussex. Since the millennium, ecology and sustainable food ideas have led to community orchards springing up, making wassailing part of their annual tree management cycle, until it has blossomed even in our cities, becoming widespread, with over 200 Wassails in 2013 and many more private ceremonies.
Wassails have a central core of activity based on the past, to spiritually encourage the trees to produce more fruit. This includes noise, processions, gifts to the trees and much drinking. Everyone does it differently, adapting the old ways with camaraderie and good fellowship.
Included in these pages are many wassail songs, the recipes for wassail drinks and cakes, but most fascinating of all, accounts by the very people who are intimately involved in the reawakening and organising of wassails all over the country.
Before his enforced retirement through ill health, Roger Watson enjoyed a long and distinguished folk career, at different times as singer, musician, songwriter, dance caller, teacher and folk animateur. Early on he was part of both Muckram Wakes and the New Victory Band.
The thirty dances in this book come from his time as Director of TAPS, when he worked extensively with schools and pupils of all ages. Roger believes passionately that tradition needs to constantly reinforce itself with new creativity, and these dances were all written by pupils as the outcome of workshops Roger led.
This book offers a substantial extension to the repertoire of English folk dances, that dance callers everywhere will find particularly valuable. It also contains ideas on how to run a school based workshop to maximize pupil involvement, enjoyment and creativity. All proceeds from sales of the book go to the British Heart Foundation
A Penny for the Ploughboys is a book & CD set of the
best loved songs and tunes written by Colin Cater, folk
singer, musician and folklorist for over forty years, Essex
man since 1970. As well as the title song, made famous by Pete
Coe, there are songs for Essex like ‘Change at Thorpe le
Soken’, and ‘Steam with Santa’.
Many songs celebrate the Turn of the Year from different
spiritual perspectives: others give fresh identity to well
loved favourites’ like Scarborough Fair, in the manner of the
classic Broadsheet Publishers of centuries past.
Colin has explored contemporary folklore: customs,
ceremonies, dance and songs for many years researching and
writing the annual Hedingham Fair Calendar of Traditional
New songs and tunes by Colin Cater, performed by Karen and
Colin Cater, with Mary Humphreys and Anahata and Dave
New tunes to well known English folk songs
recordings with a chorus of thousands
on the early folk song club movement.
singing, Morris and Molly Dancing
Ideas on re-evaluating
concepts of folk tradition
Illustrations by Karen Cater.
This fascinating book is illustrated throughout with photos
and artwork by Karen Cater; many from Hedingham Fair’s
96 A4 pages, plus free CD.
Penny for the Ploughboys
Plains of Afghanistan
Happy and Delightful
Seeds of Love