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.”
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”.