Burgess Hill girls perform a Twelfth Night Wassail

Year 2 dressed for their wassail dance
Year 2 dressed for their wassail dance

Year 2 pupils at Burgess Hill School for Girls learned and performed a traditional folk custom for the Twelfth Night.

The girls took part in an apple tree wassail, a traditional British dance, in their school playground.

Orchard-visiting wassails date back to Anglo-Saxon Britain when people would recite incantations and sing to the trees in orchards to promote a good harvest for the coming year. Traditionally the wassail is celebrated in January on the Twelfth Night.

The girls sang ‘O Little Apple Tree’ around a tree before performing their Wassail dance with wooden sticks. In traditional style, toast slices soaked in apple juice were placed on the tree’s branches and apple juice was poured around the tree’s roots.

A poem was read by Year 2 teacher, Mrs Riddle, and then to the cry of “waes hael” the girls replied “drinc hael.” A cup of apple juice was passed around the circle for the girls to drink.

The class has been learning other traditional dances this academic year. In September they were taught a Morris dance by two members of Ditchling Morris.

Report and picture contributed by Burgess Hill School for Girls.