THE pandemic has put paid to a uniquely English tradition to 'awaken' the county's apple trees this year.

Here, we have put together a selection of wassail pictures from years gone-by to mark the occasion.

Hereford Times: Tillington Wassailers. Photo: Richard ShakespeareTillington Wassailers. Photo: Richard Shakespeare

An eerie sight for those unfamiliar with the tradition, wassailing is held on the Twelfth Night after Christmas, with wassailers, morris dancers, and mummers taking to Herefordshire's orchards to awaken the apple trees from their winter slumber and ward off bad spirits.

Hereford Times: Wassailing at Westons Cider. Photo: Thomas SwanWassailing at Westons Cider. Photo: Thomas Swan

And the tradition is not just carried out in the Herefordshire countryside, but also in the city.

In 2019, more than 70 people came together in Hunderton to "wake the apple trees and drive away evil spirits."

Hereford Times: Wassailing in Hunderton in 2019Wassailing in Hunderton in 2019

Accompanied by musician Aidan Sheehan, the Cacophany Choir and a traditional Mari Lwyd Horse from Brecon, a colourful procession made their way along Cagebrook Avenue to the decorated garden, guided by children with their handmade lanterns.

Led by the 'butler' dressed in rags and a top hat, the garden's Herefordshire Russet was sprinkled with cider to ensure a good crop of apples in the autumn, at the Hunderton Community Gardens Association's first wassail.

Hereford Times: A wassailer in Eardisley in 2012. Photo: Richard ShakespeareA wassailer in Eardisley in 2012. Photo: Richard Shakespeare

But this year, the coronavirus lockdown means the usual crowds were unable to perform the annual ceremony, which differs from town to village in ciderproducing counties.

Hereford Times: Wassailers in procession. Photo: Jim WoodWassailers in procession. Photo: Jim Wood

In Herefordshire it involves placing a cider-soaked piece of toast on the branches of an apple tree and sprinkling cider around its roots, before lighting torches, dancing and singing the Wassail Song to ensure there is a good crop of cider apples for the year ahead.