I love that that the word “wassail” is both a verb and a noun, sort of like the word “party”, in fact EXACTLY like that.
The beverage (of noun notoriety) is basically mulled wine or cider, commonly consumed in eastern Europe and England particularly during Christmas time when surely there was much wassailing of both types going on.
“To wassail” has interesting origins as well. Wassailing was common during the apple harvest in England. Farmers and friends would gather around the bonfire in the orchard and drink wassail to ensure a bountiful harvest. If that sounds a lot like a general excuse for “guys night out” you might be right because in some areas of England the men were denied entrance into the farmer’s house until they could guess what roast was being prepared for them. Can’t you just imagine, the portly apple wife blocking the entrance and denying a bumbling hungry pack of farmers smelling of rotgut any hearty food until they guessed the secret password? Somethings never change.
The act of wassailing is today equivalent with caroling, much as the song (sung to the tune of “Here we go a-caroling”) suggests. Essentially though, caroling was just an inexpensive way to eat and get all boozy since the beneficiaries of the said caroling were expected to provide at least a drink, if not a dessert to the grand entertainers. Adult beverage trick or treating, if you will. I wish that tradition would re-emerge in popularity, just think, it would be like the American Idol auditions, only with intoxicants and desserts.
So that you can start your own wassailing in style, here is a recipe, you’ll also find it under our recipe tab.