Here We Come A-Wassiling

posted in: Holidays, Traditions | 0

“Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green.” 

But, what is a-wassailing?

This is when people would godoor to door singing at New Year’s.  This was the same tradition as singing Christmas Carols, but it was for the new year.  These singers were known as wassailers.

The name Wassail derives from the Old English term “waes hael” which means to be well. During the time of the Saxon’s, the lord of the manor would should out “waes hael” and the assembled crowd would reply “drinc hael” which means drink and be healthy.

In time, the tradition grew of going door to door to bear good wishes and offer a wassail bowl of hot, spiced ale. The people at the house they were visiting would give them drink, money and special Christmas fare {special foods made for Christmas”.}

The contents of the Wassail bowl varied from country to country, but one popular was known as lambs wool,because the cream and pieces of toast floating on top resembled lamb’s wool.

Of course, we are now familiar with the song and the drink referring to this tradition. 

January 17th, which was the Twelfth Night in the old tradition, is the traditional date for Wassailing.

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