January 17 is also a ceremonial day of stirring life back into fruit trees.
According to Graham Bond, wassailing researcher and tourism advisor for Heart of England tourism board, the practice is common every year in parts of England and involves carrying clubs, drums, shotguns, pots and pans and heading into fruit orchards to make a lot of noise to wake up the trees.
After getting boozed up with cider and ale, revelers make noise and beat the tree trunks with their sticks to get the sap flowing.
Finally, pieces of toasted bread, soaked in a prepared drink, are thrust into the forks of the branches of the tree and left as offerings.
As Graham explains, wassailing takes place on the eve of the Twelfth Night of Christmas January 5 but, if you follow old calendars, it can be January 17.
(Contact numbers available only to subscribing media or trial media users. You can request samples at the Wireless Flash web site.)
Copyright © 2005 Wireless Flash News Inc. All rights reserved. Wireless Flash® and FlashNews® are registered trademarks of Wireless Flash News Inc.