Ancient ritual in Halesworth blesses trees for a good harvest

Halesworth Wassailing event at the community orchard with Morris group Oxblood Molly.Paul Jackson an

Halesworth Wassailing event at the community orchard with Morris group Oxblood Molly.Paul Jackson and Adele Goodchild.PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The people of Halesworth gathered to bless the town's fruit trees in the hope of a good harvest later in the year.

Organised by Halesworth Library and the Millennium Green volunteers, dozens gathered at dusk last night to take part in the ancient tradition at the community orchard.

And while the ceremony itself may be historic, it is the first time the event has been held in the town.

Nicky Rowbottom, one of the coordinators, said: 'We wanted to encourage people to get out into the community orchard and see the Millennium Green at different times of the day and different times of the year.

'It's not just a place for summer, and it's not just a place for daylight.

'It's really lovely to have so many people, we never dreamed that so many people would turn up!'

Earlier in the day, children made lanterns in a special craft session at the town's library.

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Then all were invited to the Green for a candlelit procession to the orchard, led by Oxblood Molly dancers.

Once at the orchard, each person took a small piece of fruit cake to put in the trees' branches, and poured apple juice on their roots while reciting a short poem.

Librarian Meraylah Allwood led the blessing, known as 'wassailing' and said: 'For a couple of years we've thought it would be nice to have a winter festival of lights on the Millennium Green and this year we just thought we'd go for it. And what's great is we've got really little children here, and the oldest person is about 85.'

Are you running an event in Halesworth? Email polly.grice@archant.co.uk