It’s the time of year that you’re likely to hear songs of people proclaiming “here we come a-wassailing”, but if you aren’t sure what that means, we’re here to help.
Wassail is a hot, mulled cider drink whose name comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase “waes hael” which means “good health”. Getting your hands on this beverage was the goal of “wassailing”, which was an English tradition that dates back to the 1600’s.
During wassailing, the less fortunate would travel the streets while singing songs of good cheer and good fortune in the hopes that someone would open up their home to them momentarily for a bite of food, warmth from their hearth, or a hot drink of wassail from their large, silver communal wassail bowl.
Traditional wassail was made of:
• mulled ale
• curdled cream
• roasted apples
Most modern recipes include (but can vary quite a bit):
• apple cider
• orange juice
• pineapple juice
• lemon juice
• brown sugar
• optional alcohol (brandy, sherry, whiskey, rum)
The modern version of the drink is typically warmed in a crockpot and shared among guests at holiday gatherings, mimicking the large wassail bowls of old but keeping the same spirit of generosity.