Home | Cookbooks | Diary | Magic Menu | Surprise! | More ≡

Wassail Bowl

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.

MORE FROM Foods of England...
Cookbooks Diary Index Magic Menu Random Really English? Timeline Donate English Service Food Map of England Lost Foods Accompaniments Biscuits Breads Cakes and Scones Cheeses Classic Meals Curry Dishes Dairy Drinks Egg Dishes Fish Fruit Fruits & Vegetables Game & Offal Meat & Meat Dishes Pastries and Pies Pot Meals Poultry Preserves & Jams Puddings & Sweets Sauces and Spicery Sausages Scones Soups Sweets and Toffee About ... Bookshop

Email: editor@foodsofengland.co.uk