Here We Come a Wassailing

Tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year … Halloween!  Not only did I have a granddaughter born on Halloween and she’ll turn 21 tomorrow, but I love the kids, their costumes, and giving out treats.  I took ten bags of candy to the church today for our annual Trunk or Treat.  So many wonderful memories.

But oh do I love apple wassail to kick off the holiday season.  I didn’t realize the tradition of Apple Wassail, which is a form of wassailing practiced in the cider orchards of southern England during the winter some five centuries ago.  The first recorded mention was at Fordwich, Kent, in 1585.  Groups of young men would go between orchards performing the rite for a reward. The practice was sometimes referred to as “howling”.  On the Twelfth Night, men would go with their wassail bowl into apple orchards.  Slices of bread or toast were laid at the roots and sometimes tied to branches.  Cider was also poured over the tree roots.  The ceremony is said to “bless” the trees to produce a good crop the next season.

A folktale from Somerset reflecting this custom tells of the Apple Tree Man, the spirit of the oldest apple tree in an orchard, and in whom the fertility of the orchard is thought to reside.  In the tale a man offers his last mug of mulled cider to the trees in his orchard and is rewarded by the Apple Tree Man who reveals to him the location of buried gold.

Here’s a couple of well know and fun traditional Apple Wassail rhymes.

“Stand fast root, bear well to

Pray for God send us a howling good crop.

Every twig apple big.

Every Bough, apples now.”

                                                                            19th century Sussex, Surrey

“But by far here’s the one we all know.

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, 1971

The wassail recipe is very easy and fun to make and drink.

  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 1 quart cranberry juice
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 16 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 1 stick (6 inch size) cinnamon.

Tie the spices in a cheesecloth bag.  Add the spice bag and all remaining ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.

For a party or a carry-in, heat in a crock pot on low temperature.

Optional:  Garnish individual servings with a cinnamon stick and orange slice.  Serves 24.

My question to you:  What is your favorite holiday beverage?


To one reader who leaves a comment, I will give away an eBook of my latest Kasota Springs Romance “Out of a Texas Night”.

Website | + posts

A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

Visit her at

24 thoughts on “Here We Come a Wassailing”

  1. Oh I love caramel Apple Cider and Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino I cant pick a favorite between the two I love them both. Hope you have a Happy Halloween

    • Hi Glenda, so good to hear from you. WoW! Caramel Apple Cider Cappuccino! Sounds so good. I’ll have to check both of them out. Hope you and yours have a very Happy Halloween, too! I plan on it and might well be drinking Caramel Apple Cider Cappuccino. Hugs, Phyliss

  2. Really interesting blog, Phyliss. Have a Happy Halloween! I think my partial Scottish heritage or another lifetime in Scotland must affect my drink choices because I’d as soon have tea (hot or cold), or a dram of Dewars or Drambuie rather than anything else, year ’round. 😉 Boring, ain’t I?

    • Hi Eliza. Good to hear from you. Now my hubby would really like your choice of drinks and his family isn’t even from Scotland, but they are from Ireland. Does that count? Can’t beat hot tea. Take care and have a great Halloween. It’s gonna be rainy and cold here, but I bet we have a bunch of kids. Take care and Happy Halloween to you and yours. Hugs, Phyliss

      • The word “whiskey” comes from the Gaelic “uisce beatha,” meaning “water of life” which is the same in Ireland and Scotland. BUT it all depends on what he likes. 🙂 Ireland has lots of distilleries of their own like Scotland does and maybe he like American whiskey anyway!

        P.S. I drink far, far more tea than the very occasional whiskey, at least these days. 🙂

  3. Hello Phyliss, WOW, that’s awesome about your granddaughter turning 21!! Wish her happy birthday from me!! I’ll have to try your recipe. Someone is going to win an awesome book. I loved this book, you did a phenomenal job writing it. Love and hugs from Kansas.

    • Hello my Kansas friend. I’m thrilled she’s turning 21 tomorrow, plus has set her wedding day for January 25th. I hate to admit this but I forgot to put postage on my grandkid’s Halloween cards and Abby’s 21st Birthday card! They’ll be late, but that’s how forgetful I’m getting in my old age. Although most of my grands are college or older, I still send holiday cards, but this year no $2 bills for them to buy their own Halloween treat. They make more money than we do! LOL Thanks so much for the wonderful comments about my book. I’m working on Sylvie’s story, so I hope it’s as good, even better, than this one. Have a great Halloween and try some wassail. Big hugs and love from Texas!

  4. Well my goodness, I have a lot of blank memory issues between my MS lesions and having died once. (Long story) I do not recall the term wassail or the wassailing traditions. I do love to have spiced apple cider this time of year though. My favorite holiday beverage is eggnog, with or without liquor. This is a great book and I was blessed to have won it from you! Thanks again!!

    • Hi Stephanie, so good to hear from you. Gosh, I’d like to know more about MS lesions, as I have a niece (young, too) with MS and her mother has been talking about her lesions. I wasn’t aware of this being part of MS. Take care of yourself for sure. I think hot spiced apple cider is much like wassail. Okay, another vote for eggnog! Thanks for your kind remarks and review on my last book. I truly appreciate you. I hope you have a wonderful and fun Halloween. Big hugs, Phyliss

  5. I’m kind of traditional when it comes to holiday beverages. I like eggnog. I have never had or heard of wassail, but from reading your recipe, it sounds like something I would very much like.

    • Hi Janine, so good to hear from you. Eggnog is winning by a landslide. Try wassail. It’s really good and I think you’ll enjoy it. Just be sure to use apple cider, not apple juice. I’m getting hungry for eggnog! Hope you have a great day.

  6. Thank you, Phyliss, I learned some new things from your post. My favorite holiday beverage is coffee. I know, I know, but IT IS still my favorite!

    • Hi Rosie, good to hear from you. Glad you learned something from the blog. I try hard to find things for my blog that we all don’t normally think about. Oh yes coffee! I was a hundred year vet of coffee with good flavored creamer, but gave it up a few months ago to save the cal count, since I love sugar and cream in my coffee. Missing it, so when winter hits, I’ll likely go back. Love, love that coffee. Hope you have a great day.

  7. Hi Phyllis, thanks for explaining the tradition of wassailing and sharing your recipe. This is a drink that I associate with the Christmas Tea that we always served at my library each December during our Open House. I enjoy it but never have it any other time of the year. I also associate Eggnog (without the alcohol) with Christmas because my Daddy loved it so much. Can’t believe that the holiday season is ready to begin!

    • Hi Connie. Good to hear from you. I’m glad I could provide some new info on an old subject. We’ve done wassail during the holidays, but eggnog is definitely the drink of choice for Christmas and New Years Eve. I bet you all have a blast at your Christmas Tea and Open House. I’m totally with you about can’t believing the holiday season is upon us. When I stopped to buy the Halloween candy yesterday, there was hardly any on display because they were setting up and stocking Christmas! Just hard to believe. Have a great day. Phyliss

  8. A fun blog, Phyliss! Wassil sounds very tasty and would be excellent on a cold night. Around a fire. With a warm throw. My favorite Christmas drink is eggnog. I really love the thick creaminess and the wonderful nutmeg taste.

    Love you, dear friend!

    • Hi dear friend and fellow Filly. Seems eggnog is winning! Maybe we can do some Wassil and watch a good movie wrapped up in our own warm throws this winter. Some eggnog even? Love you, P

  9. I’ve never made Wassil but would love to try. Sounds good. It’s always egg nog during holidays for me. I enjoyed your post.

    • Hi Carol. Good to hear from you. Yes, egg nog is so good. Try Wassil, it’s wonderful. And, you don’t have to go to all of the wrapping of some spices. I also make sure to use apple cider. Have a great day; and I vote for egg nog, too.

    • Hi Caryl. Good to hear from you today. Herbal teas are wonderful this time of the year. I like tea, except for Green Tea because of old kidney stone problems, all seasons. Being from the South, sweet tea is my favorite, but love herbal teas at night when it’s cold especially. Hope you have a wonderful day.

  10. Hi Denise. Good to hear from you. Can’t beat hot chocolate. I hope you saw my recipe for red velvet hot chocolate in my September blog. Yummy to hot chocolate. Hugs to you and yours.

  11. Hello Phyliss, I haven’t had the chance to chat with you in a long time and I am a new recruit for all of this. A fun FYI for you. My husband is from Ireland and they do definitely follow the traditions and customs from long ago. There is little better than being a part of an Irish family. Tell your GrandDaughter HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

Comments are closed.