When all twelve days of Christmas were holidays people would celebrate the last day before returning to work on the land by lighting bonfires and baking cakes. Now it is the last day to take down the Christmas decorations to avoid bad luck and the last day of eating a daily mince pie for good luck.............if that's what you've been doing!
Wassailing the Apple trees on Twelfth Night (or old Twelfth Night on the 17th) still takes place in some cider making regions of this country. Cider is poured on the apple roots and toast soaked in cider hung on the branches of the trees then shots fired through the branches to frighten off evil spirits and songs song to encourage the trees to fruit.
Old apple tree, we wassail thee, and hope thou wilt bear
For the lord doth know where we shall be,till apples come another year
To bear well and bloom well so merry let us be
Let every man take off his hat and shout to the old apple tree..........
Old Apple tree we wassail thee, and hope that thou will bear
Hats full, caps full, three bushel bags full,
And a little heap under the stair.
Wassail means "be healthy"and as farm workers were often paid in cider during the harvest it was important the trees were healthy and produced plenty of fruit......... at one time there were 400 varieties of cider apples and an orchard in every village on every farm.
Here's some Wassailling from Somerset in 1979
Then of course there is the Twelfth Night that is the comedy by William Shakespeare. This is the only play by Shakespeare that I've ever read and that was because we "did" it for O Level back in 1971.......(Along with Jane Eyre and some poems from the Book of Narrative Poetry) Although I failed English Literature at least it didn't put me off reading because I haven't stopped reading since then................ But no more Shakespeare or Brontes.