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Wassailing through Winter


Feeling crabby in the week of blue Monday? Apparently the word “crabby” meaning grumpy or irritated, may come from the bitterness of the crab apple! Perhaps you’ve been out wassailing in your apple trees this week?

Last month Julia shared a lovely blog about apples – this one covers a bit more about the folklore of the crab apple, a tree that is brilliant for wildlife in your garden. My sparrows certainly love it.

Thanks Julia, fascinating stuff!

The Folklore of Apple trees

The crab apple is the only indigenous apple in the UK.  It is said to be used in Druid rituals as the star that forms when the apple is sliced in half across the middle resembles a natural pentagon, (a five-pointed star). 

Many other folk tales are found in England, Scotland and Wales in druid folklore.  The most well-known and thus revived today, is Wassailing.  Central to this custom/festival is a drink which is made with cider, and drunk in the orchards in November on the first of the Druids Day Of The Apple.   Another similar celebration occurs on the Old Twelfth Night, a celebration thought to ward off evil spirits and beseech the trees to have a fine harvest the following year.

 Modern 12th night falls on the 5th Jan, but the Old Twelfth night falls on the 17th of January due to a change in the calendar in the 18th Century.

 Then are other customs like apple bobbing, used historically in traditional rituals and now, mostly, associated with Halloween.

 Apple trees are steeped in folklore all around the world. In the Christian faith, the apple is the tree of forbidden knowledge, which gave Adam and Eve the knowledge of good and evil. 

 In Norse tradition the apple is the tree of immortality.

 The apple tree is important in Greek mythology too. The earth goddess, Gaia, gave Hera the supreme goddess an apple tree when she married Zeus. It was fiercely guarded thereafter.

 In Polish folklore it is the dream tree and its thought to induce dreams. In other European customs the medieval church believed that an enchanted apple given to a victim caused demonic possession, hence the story of Snow White. 

Julia Stofa

 If you have a blog to share, to help people to appreciate nature and work towards renaturing Seaford, please get in touch!

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