Morris dancers don blackface for traditional 'wassail' ritual

Morris dancers don blackface for traditional ‘wassail’ ritual as they toast trees with cider to ensure a good apple harvest

  • Members of the Hook Eagle Morris Men gathered outside a pub for the centuries old event
  • They blacked up their faces and drank hot mulled cider as they toasted the apple trees
  • Morris dancers claim there are ‘no racial connotations’ to the make up which is for disguise  

Morris dancers donned ‘blackface’ for a traditional ritual in which they toast apple trees with cider to ensure a good harvest.

Members of the Hook Eagle Morris Men group covered their faces with the controversial make-up as they gathered outside a pub in Hampshire last night.

They performed the ancient medieval ‘wassail’ ritual which involves drinking hot mulled cider to ensure the good health of apple trees.

Dozens of dancers turned out for the Vaughan Millennium Apple Orchard in Hartley Wintney.

The dancers have come under fire for blacking up in recent years as many find the tradition racially offensive.

But Morris dancers say there are ‘no racial connotations’ to the make-up as the origins of the tradition date back to the 16th century when black paint was used by farm workers as a disguise while begging in the winter, which was illegal. 

The Hook Eagle Morris Men were established in 1991 for a one-off event to raise funds for their local church but decided to continue.

Members of the Hook Eagle Morris Dancers dance outside the Waggon and Horses pub before heading to the Vaughan Millennium Apple Orchard for a ‘Wassail’ in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire

A member of the Hook Eagle Morris Dancers in the Vaughan Millennium Apple Orchard during a ‘Wassail’ in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire

 

 

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