Sunday, 19 December 2010

December - Wassail, wassail

Wassailing has been associated with Christmas and New Year as far back as the 1400s. It was a way of passing on good wishes among family and friends.

The tradition of wassailing originates with the story of a Saxon woman named Rowena who presented a bowl of wine to Prince Vortigen  and toasted him with the words “Waes hael (be in good health).”
The contents of the wassail bowl varied in different parts of the country, but a popular one was known as 'lambs wool'. It consisted of hot ale, roasted crab apples, sugar, spices, eggs, and cream served with little pieces of toast. It was the toast floating on the top that made it look like lamb's wool.

The House-Visiting wassail, is similar to the practice of people going door-to-door singing Christmas Carols. The Orchard-Visiting wassail, prevalent in the apple-producing counties of England, refers to the practice of singing to promote a good harvest for the coming year. The latter traditionally took place on 12th Night (17th January before England adopted the Gregorian Calender).

Wassail, wassail, all over the town