Caistor in Bloom Waes-Hal
Photograph of Mick Paige calling out The Waes-Hal
Colour, noise and traditional dance filled the community orchard during a Waes-Hal at Caistor Sports Ground on Sunday (January 11, 2015).
Between 50 and 60 people gathered on the lower field despite the chilly wind to watch the festival performed by Grimsby Morris Men. The Morris Men were wearing their winter customes – coats stitched with layers of brightly coloured rags.
Waes-hal is an Anglo-Saxon greeting which means “Be of good health and fortune.” It is held early in the year to send wishes for a good harvest later.
Traditionally, a farmer and his friends and family used to gather in the orchard and make plenty of noise to ward off evil spirits and praise Pomona the Apple Goddess. The ritual involved “toasting” the apple trees by soaking pieces of toast in cider and attaching them to the branches. Children were asked to toast the trees first.
The Waes-Hal was a long-held dream of Caistor In Bloom supporter Richard Headland, who has wanted the festival to come to Caistor since In Bloom took root in 2009. Morris dancer Richard suffered serious injuries in an accident at the end of 2013, so could not join his colleagues in the dancing, but he was there to witness the festival.
After the Waes-hal in the community orchard, the gathering reassembled at Caistor Sports and Social Club to watch the Morris Men perform an amusing Plough Monday Play. A collection was held for a charity which helps disadvantaged teenagers.
To find out more about Grimsby Morris Men, click here There is also a women’s group, Herring Gals, who meet on Wednesday evenings at St Christopher’s Church Hall in Convamore Road in Grimsby. They have a Facebook page called Herring Gals.