Today is the Feast of Epiphany, which means Christmas is officially over (how did we ever get suckered into thinking it’s just one day? It’s right there in the song: twelve days! I feel cheated).

At this time of year it’s traditional in rural England to go wassailing. Usually this involves pouring cider around the base of an apple tree, putting a bit of toast in its boughs, then singing to it so that evil spirits are scared away. Folk traditions are awesome.

The idea is to bless the apple trees so they produce a good harvest later in the year. I love this because it’s a way of connecting us to the land at a time when that connection has all but disappeared.

I don’t have an apple tree, but at sundown this evening I’m going to stand in the garden, pour a little whisky on the ground, leave a slice of toast out, and pray that good things will grow this year.

Here’s a little wassail poem in case you do find yourself near an apple tree:

Bless you apple tree,
Bless the way you grow,
Bless the patience you have
In a hasty world
To be gentle, steady and slow.

Bless you apple tree,
Bless the way you live,
Bless the kindness you have
In a needy world
For the shelter and shade you give.

Bless you apple tree,
Bless the way you care,
Bless the generosity you have
In a selfish world
For the fruit you freely share

Bless you apple tree,
Bless everything you do,
Bless the wisdom you have
In a shallow world
To be content with being just you.

Gideon Heugh