Monday, 28 December 2009


“At Christmas play and make good cheer, For Christmas comes but once a year.” - Thomas Tusser

In the past, Christmas Carol singing continued throughout the 12 Days of Christmas (Christmas Day to the Epiphany on the 6th of January).  Carol singers used to go from house to house “wassailing”.  The term “wassail” is from the Anglo-Saxon Waes Heil, which means “Good Health”.  A wassail bowl was carried by the carollers, which was refilled by each house they stopped at.  A communal drinking bout resulted after each round of carols finished.  The mixture inside the bowl was referred to as “Lamb’s Wool”.  The Gloucestershire Wassail carol advises:
    Wassail, wassail, all over town
    Our bread is white and our ale is brown
    Our bowl is made from good maple tree
    We be good fellows all; I drink unto thee.


1    quart (950 mL) of good ale
1    pint (475 mL) white wine
1/3    cup brandy
11/2    cups sugar
1    teaspoonful ground cinnamon
1    nutmeg grated
10    roasted crab apples
5    slices bread, toasted

Heat the wine and dissolve the sugar and spices in it.  Add the ale and stir thoroughly.  Mix in the brandy and the crab apples. Float the toast on top and serve in a very hot punch bowl.  Each person sips a little of the mixture and the bowl goes around until the drink is finished.

I think that by the time the carollers had done the round of houses in their neighbourhood, they would have been more than tipsy, given the alcoholic content of the beverage!

Today we spent all morning in the garden, working until the heat of the day drove us inside. We managed to get a lot done, including many jobs, which I had put off for a long time. We then stayed inside as the heat became too much. I worked a little on the computer and then in the afternoon, we watched a movie. This evening will be very quiet and relaxing. This iwhat being on holiday is all about!

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely custom! I wish we could revive some of these old customs...