Originally published in the November 2021 Issue of the Old Town Crier Magazine
“Wassailing? What the hell is wassailing?” Was the reply my 15-year-old self gave to his friends when they said we were going wassailing.
“Caroling” they said.
“You mean door to door?”
No way! I was too cool for that! Not happening!
Then the girls showed up to join us. Suddenly my attitude changed, and I’ve been wassailing ever since.
The word “wassailing” has evolved for over 1000 years. It is derived from Old Nordic and Old English words that meant “be in good health”. A British tradition, it originally referred to a drink made of mulled ale or cider, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs cloves, ginger, nutmeg and sugar.
According to WhyChristmas.com:
“One legend about how Wassailing was created says that a beautiful Saxon maiden named Rowena presented Prince Vortigen with a bowl of wine while toasting him with the words ‘waes hael’. Over the centuries, a great deal of ceremony developed around the custom of drinking wassail. The bowl was carried into the room with great fanfare, a traditional carol about the drink was sung, and finally, the steaming hot beverage was served.”