Wassail ~ A salutation or toast given in drinking someone's health or as an expression of goodwill at a festivity; the drink used in such toasting, commonly ale or wine spiced with roasted apples and sugar; a festivity characterized by much drinking.In centuries past, villagers or townspeople got together in groups and went from door to door, singing and drinking to the health of their neighbors. This concept actually harkens back to pre-Christian fertility rites - except in those ceremonies, villagers traveled through their fields and orchards in the middle of winter, singing and shouting to drive away any spirits that might inhibit the growth of future crops. As part of this, they poured wine and cider on the ground to encourage fertility in the crops. Eventually, this evolved into the idea of Christmas caroling, which became popular during the Victorian era, and is still seen today in many areas.
While I'm not sure about going out in the middle of winter and pouring cider all over the apple trees in the neighborhood, I sure don't mind drinking a cup or two of wassail. Enjoy!
8 cups apple juice or cider
2 cups cranberry juice
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1 apple, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon Allspice
1 teaspoon Ginger
1 teaspoon Nugmet
3 cinnamon sticks (or 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon)
1/2 cup - 1 cup brandy (optional)
Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green.
Here we come a-wand'ring so fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
and to all your wassail, too,
may the Gods bless you, and send you a Happy New Year,
the Gods send you a Happy New Year.