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COLIN CATER & KAREN CATER - Wassailing: Reawakening An Ancient Folk Custom

COLIN CATER & KAREN CATER - Wassailing: Reawakening An Ancient Folk Custom
Hedingham Fair 9780955647550

Normally books of folklore subjects which are full of illustrations usually use them to mask the underlying deficiencies of the text: how wonderful to have a book which so manifestly bucks the trend. Karen Cater’s superb illustrations of folk customs are here prolifically scattered throughout the book and are a total delight to the eye, whilst the text by Colin Cater has all you could wish for to know about wassailing. Not only does this volume deal with its history, variations and curiosities, (including the house visiting, apple orchard and Mari Lwyd varieties) but it also fully documents the revival of these customs – what the book calls its “reawakening”.

There is an important section on modern wassails, where community orchard, urban and other modern wassails are discussed along with information on support groups, how to remodel the custom to fit in an urban surrounding and much other practical advice. All of this is done with great authority but written in an eminently readable way. As well as the format of the custom, the book also provides good, readable versions of 18 songs, not just traditional but some of the best recent compositions as well as some very fine recipes for food and drink. All in all, a splendid publication, superb as a gift (to yourself as well as others) and not least as a superb calling card to give you a reason to visit the excellent Hedingham Fair stall at many Festivals throughout the year where you can purchase not only this book, but posters, t-shirts and even wassail bowls. You’ll enjoy this!

Paul Burgess

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This album was reviewed in Issue 100 of The Living Tradition magazine.