Monday, 11 January 2016


<-- This is my hat! When you join a Morris side you have to make your own tatter-coat and hat and I must admit I'm rather proud of my hat.

This weekend I danced at the Stroud Wassail as part of the border morris side, Styx of Stroud. It was a great day, featuring morris dancing, mummers and much general merriment, and despite the rain all involved had a fantastic time.

So what is a Wassail?
(This information is taken from the Stroud Wassail page

'The earliest wassail was simply an anglo-saxon toast…
Waes Hael ! –  Be hale (healthy)
The correct response to this toast is;
Drinc Hael !   Drink to your health

To this day we often offer a little toast to our fellow drinkers ‘Here’s to your health’.  This is where it comes from.
Since medieval times, the wassail bowl would be passed around the hall on twelfth night. You would take a sip and pass the bowl on, wishing the next person good health for the year ahead – Wassail.'

There are three different types of Wassail; House Wassailing, Pub Wassailing and Apple tree Wassailing. Last year I took part in an Apple tree wassail where we danced, processed and sang to an Apple tree in order to ensure a good harvest and the continuation of good cider!

The Wassail celebration in Stroud included performances all across the small town by Morris sides and Mummers and traditional wassail singing in the centre of the town at mid day.

Even though it was raining the day was great fun, the only drawback was that due to a particularly heavy downpour in the afternoon the parade through the town had to be cancelled.

At mid day everyone congregated outside in the centre of the town where The Broad, along with other costumed performers, processed around while the wassail song was sung.

(This information is taken from the Stroud Wassail page

'The Broad is a very local kind of hobby horse.  Found only in the area between Stroud and Bath. In this case it represented a bull rather than a horse.
A pair of horns, fixed to an upturned old broom, a hardboard face with two bottle tops for eyes, and a sack to cover the person inside.
It does not appear to be particulary ancient, maybe 200 years, but may be related to the hobby horses in mummers plays, and Mari Llwyd tradtions.'

After the wassail song had been sung Shrewsbury Mummers performed a short and very amusing play before the groups dispersed again to perform in other spots around the town.

 The rest of the afternoon was spent dancing in different locations and with different Morris sides. At the end of the afternoon many of the sides all came together again in the town centre to perform mass dances (when the sides all dance together instead of taking it in turns). As always the mass dances were both messy and very fun with lots of laughter all round. Unfortunately though I did not get any pictures of the mass dances as I was too busy dancing myself!
All the pictures posted in this post are ones that I took myself throughout the day.

The last photo is a group photo of Styx of Stroud (in the black tatter-coats) and Foxes Morris (in the red and green tatter-coats) in the centre of Stroud. Unfortunately this photo is not from the Wassail this weekend but from an event last year.
As I was dancing I did not get a chance to get a picture of Styx (the side that I dance with) and I felt that this was a shame so I found one from another time. (Yes I am in that picture but I'm going to leave you guessing as to which one I am!)

The Wassail was a brilliant day of dance and merriment and I will definitely look forward to doing it again in the future :)

And if any of you get the chance to go to one I would highly recommend that you do as it is a great experience!

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