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Wassail Bowl
Drinks
South West


Wassail at Thatchers Cider
Image: Neil Phillips


Drink prepared to celebrate the winter festival, commonly based on cider or ale with brandy and spices, served hot. The word 'wes-hale' was originally a drinking-toast or salutation used when presenting a cup to a companion, the reply being 'drink-hale'. It may be remnant of the festival of Yule, which has now been subsumed into Christmas. There remains a significant tradition of making large, usually turned wood, bowls for drinking the Wassail from.

Wassail! wassail! all over the town,
Our toast it is white, and our ale it is brown;
Our bowl is made of a maplin tree;
We be good fellows all; - I drink to thee.

Gloucestershire Wassailers' Song


Wassailers toasting the orchard
Image: Unknown


Here we come a wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a wandering
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too,
And God bless you and send you a happy New Year.
And God send you a happy New Year.

Somerset, 1871


There is also a certain tradition of placing cider-soaked bread or toast among the trees...


Offering toast soaked in cider at Saddlescombe Farm, West Sussex after a Wassail.
Image: Laurence Perry / National Trust


Although a 'wassail bowl' is generally the celebratory drink, or the bowl it is drunk from, there is also a considerable tradition of making a Wassail Custard dessert treat.



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