Christmas,  Culinary History,  Drinks,  Food History,  Holidays,  Parties


“Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green;
Here we come a-wandering, so fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you, and to you our wassail, too.
And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year
And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year!”

Old English Traditional carol


As the old carol says, wassailing is a way to wish your neighbor good health and joy as the old year goes out and new one comes in. Wassail comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word “waes hael” meaning “to your health”. Back in the day, wassailing was very much like caroling. Neighbors would go around to each others houses to celebrate and drink. Wassail was what was served to these merry makers.

Wassail, Wassail, to our Town, 1932, by Cicely Mary BarkerWassailing could also trace its roots back to the pagan practices of Yule. Singing or wassailing the apple trees was meant to insure a good harvest.

But what is the wassail drink?

Wassail is a traditional fruit and alcohol drink heavily spiced and served hot as you can stand it! Wassail is very much like mulled wine and other spiced fruit drinks. To mull something means to add spices, honey or sugar to it and heat it. Often whole spices like cinnamon sticks and grated ginger and nutmeg were used as well as fruit like apples, oranges or lemons.

If you would like to try making your own wassail for the season, this is an excellent recipe!

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