Friday, January 17, 2014

The Last Day of Christmas

If you are wondering why wassailing took place on January 17 rather than January 5, it is because this was the date of the original Twelfth Night.

In 1752 Britain moved from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. To make the shift, 11 days were removed from September that year, on the King's orders.

Some people - especially those in country areas - were very unhappy about this and stuck to the old calender.

Thus Old Christmas falls 12 days after December 25 and Old Twelfth Night falls on January 17.

It is custom to decorate trees with cider on this date.

The date is an obvious reference to Twelfth Night, which is now observed on January 5.

wassailing takes place as night falls in orchards throughout England. However, with the dwindling number of orchards, the ceremony takes place less and less.

"As darkness fell, we carried flaming torches amongst the trees, drank to their health and placed pieces of toast dipped in cider amongst the branches. 

And we sang the wassail song and many other old songs too. 

And just as we began to relax, and the cider take hold of us, guns were fired through the branches to scare off bad demons, bringing us back to our senses". 

The orchard written about here has since been built upon and the tradition there lost.

The Wassail belief runs something like,  

"If you sing to your tree or flock you will encourage its growth"!

First break a bread and dip it in the Cider.

Put the bread in the best tree and as the birds eat the bread they will begin to sing.

Next you chant the following:
Good apple tree we wassail thee,
that thou may bud,
and that thou may blow,
and that thou may bear apples a new,
hats full,
caps full,
three bushel barrels full,

All members of the wassail group chant "wassail, drink hail" and drink from the cup of cider.

This causes the evil to be scared away from the orchard for the following year.

The wassailing of fruit trees is one of the last customs in which country folk still like to stick to the old ways.

The Astronomical Christmas

In relation to the suns tracking from shortest day to to the 17th of Jan you find the sunrise is earlier each day consistently.

Between the 25th and 26th of December the sun rises at its latest time and remains at this time until the 6th - 7th January.

The last few weeks have seen the sun rising at about the same time each day and at around the 14th to 17th Jan the days start to be longer each day.

Both the the sunrise and sunset change, with earlier sunrises and later sunsets.

This is the part of the year (In most of the Northern hemisphere) that the days really start to get longer.

Happy New Year!

Christmas is over today

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