ANCIENT rituals were performed at Steyning Community Orchard on Saturday to ‘wake up’ the trees.
Around 80 people took part in the wassail celebrations, organised by Mythago Morris.
Dressed in black with coloured masks, the morris side encouraged everyone to take part to lay the foundations for another successful year for the orchard, at Memorial Playing Field.
Bob Platt, from the orchard team, said: “The wassail was a great success. We were encouraged to make as much noise as possible, the objective being to wake the trees up from their winter slumbers and to frighten off evil spirits.
“We won’t know if we have been successful until we see the crop in the autumn.
“We ended the rituals by running, screaming, away from the orchard, apparently thereby carrying the evil spirits with us away from the trees, and then strolled back to Steyning Cricket Club for a well-earned drink and to be entertained with music by Pete Varkala and friends.”
Wassail, or howling as it is sometimes referred to in Sussex, is a winter celebration to ensure an orchard is fruitful in the coming months.
Mythago Morris performed one of the side’s own renowned stories, with music and dancing.
With the morris men leading the way, the crowd, armed with sticks, set off across the playing field to the orchard.
Bob added: “We chanted an ancient poem to the trees, made a ritual offering of toast dipped in cider, sang a song to the tune of Good King Wenceslas to encourage the trees to be fruitful and performed a ritual circle dance around the trees while striking the ground with sticks.”
Mythago sets out to tell stories through a combination of music, dance, verse and song. They explaining the rituals, their origins and meaning, and handed out song-sheets with the words of the poems and songs so that everyone could all join in.
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