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Come and chase winter away for a good harvest with the Morris dancers

Saturday 13 January 2018

Come and chase winter away for a good harvest with the Morris dancers

It's that time of year again: the National Trust and Helier Morris are putting on their Annual Wassail Festival to ensure that "we shall have apples and cider this year."

The ancient tradition of 'wassailing', which includes dancing round the trees, praising them and chasing away the spirits of winter, is carried out in orchards around the UK and some other parts of the world.

The wassailing celebrations started last weekend for the Helier Morris Men who returned "muddied but unbowed." Not to rest on their laurels they will be putting their dancing shoes on, as well as their bells and rag coats once again to ensure a good harvest by dancing at the Elms in St Mary. Founded in 1975, the group is the only men's morris group in Jersey. They dance traditional English morris dancing in the Cotswold and Border styles. 

Islanders are invited join them in wassailing the trees and the bees, dance the morris and experience the drama of a medieval Mummers play. 

Pictured: The Elms, the 18th century farm complex, location of the Trust headquarters.

They have promised: "Helier Morris Men will once again dance their legs off and are willing to share, with those that dare, some of their ancient moves. Yes, you too can dance The Morris so put your best (and your second best) foot forward and dance to the amazement of your family and friends."

With singing, storytelling and drama with the play, they say there couldn't be a finer way to spend a winter Saturday.

Locals are invited to bring ‘noise makers’, join in the procession and watch the trees being ‘toasted’ in the orchard with a tot of sloe gin. La Robeline will also be on site to sell their best-loved cider and sausages.

The gates of the Elms will open promptly at 12:00 to allow people to "enjoy a wander round and partake of Master Cider Maker (and squeezebox virtuoso) Richard Matlock's fantastic, festive La Robeline sausages in a baguette, and perhaps a warming glass," the Helier Morris Men say. Dancing will start at 13:30, after which visitors and Morris Dancers will process up to orchard and wassail the trees, as well as the bees, before returning to the Elms for the stories, drama and sing along fun, which should finish at 16:00.

Minimum donations of £2 towards the maintenance of the Trust’s orchards are "warmly welcomed." Wellies and warm clothes are highly recommended. 


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