The Mountain Times

°F Sat, April 19, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Celebrate Wassail Weekend in Woodstock, Dec. 7-9

For the past 26 years, Wassail Weekend in Woodstock has welcomed people from near and far to celebrate in unique ways. This traditional ceremony involves singing and drinking the health of trees in the hopes that they might better thrive. Wassailing is an action, the purpose of which is to awake the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn. 
Voted one of Vermont's Top Ten Winter events, the term has its roots in medieval England referring to the Norse, "ves heill" meaning "to drink to the health." Ale brewed with spiced apples and sugar was the warm drink given to the singers who went door to door during the Solstice. Christmas became interwoven with celebrations during the darkest time of the year.

The highlight of the weekend is the Wassail Parade through the center of Woodstock with over 50 horses and riders dressed in holiday costumes and period dress from the early 19th Century. The High Horses Therapeutic Riding Program welcomes riders from all over with wagons, surreys and sometimes sleighs, if weather permits. Mr. Claus himself usually puts in an appearance and then heads on to our Little Theater where he greets the children at the magical "Christmas Visions."

Troupes of singers and revelers parade the streets and gather around a fire after the parade to enjoy cider and sing carols. The local arts council, Pentangle Arts, offers a horse-drawn tour of Woodstock's notable historic homes in all of their festive glory. Later in the day, enjoy vibrant holiday concerts presented at the Woodstock Town Hall Theatre or in churches around the Village, or experience seasonal entertainment provided by The YOH Players at Woodstock Union High School/Middle School.

A reading of "A Child's Christmas in Wales" will take place at noon at the Norman Williams Library. An open house at the Woodstock Historical Society on Friday night offers historic music through the beautifully decorated Dana House.

Throughout the Christmas Season, Billings Farm & Museum is decorated and offers the perfect opportunity to see what the holidays were like in Vermont in the 19th Century complete with wagon or sleigh rides around the farm.

Shops are often open late, the streets are decorated with white lights and usually Mother Nature provides a dusting of snow.
Rarely can you experience the holidays in such a picture-perfect place. Join in and learn to Wassail in Woodstock this weekend.