wassailing, christmas carol, Crunchy Moms, song, holidays, crunchy, recipe, crunchy mom, apple cider

The Wassail Song, a popular English Christmas Carol, goes:

Here we come a wassailing among the leaves so green,

Here we come a-wan-d’ring, 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.

But, what is wassail and, how does one go about wassailing?

Wassail evolved from a greeting based on Old Norse and Old English words meaning, “Be of good health” or “Be fortunate”, to a concoction meant to actually cause good health or fortune upon drinking it.  It started (much as these things do) as a spiced wine for the rich, but when other fine wines made their way into society it became a common man’s drink.  It’s a hot mulled cider of sorts that can be fermented, but is really meant to be drunk soon after being prepared, making it an appropriate drink for the whole family.  There are several different versions of the drink (with similar base ingredients) as each family prepared it according to the ingredients they had on hand.  I’m going to share the organic version of my family’s recipe that I came up with this year (it has been tested and enjoyed):

1 gl. of organic Apple Cider
6 oz of organic 100% lemon juice concentrate (no added water)
6 oz of organic 100% orange juice concentrate (no added water)
1 cup of organic brown sugar (or to taste)
2 oz of organic cloves
1 whole organic nutmeg or 1 tsp of organic ground nutmeg
7-8 shorter organic cinnamon sticks or 3-4 long

Heat ingredients on med-high until they are about to bubble simmer- do not boil.  Turn down to simmer (2-3/low).  After about 1/2 an hour (or to taste- you want it spicy but, not too spicy) remove cloves, whole nutmeg, and cinnamon sticks.  Leave on warm heat and serve from the pot or carafe.  Refrigerate left overs and reheat as desired.

*Hint- You can make a clove ball (take an orange and stick the cloves through the skin) to contain the cloves or you may want to heat with the cloves and whole nutmeg in a strainer lowered into the cider- this will help when it’s time to remove them from the wassail.

The act of Wassailing has undergone several transformations over it’s history.  From a bowl brought to kings, to a health and fertility “potion” fed to farmer’s livestock.  From peasants caroling and offering wassail with the expectation of receiving a payment, to the rich opening their homes at Christmas to their servants (and later in America, their slaves) and the poor of their communities to serve them a bountiful feast.  The act of wassailing is largely nonexistent these days, but in keeping with the nobler tradition of sharing your wealth with those less fortunate, I propose a revival in modern day terms: Work with your church or local community center to set up a holiday meal for your community’s homeless and include wassail in the menu.  Or, contact your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen and see if they’d allow you to contribute some wassail to their holiday meal.  Be willing to provide, prepare, and serve with a heart that wishes those you’re serving good health and fortune for the coming new year.  Consider including your children in this service- I guarantee it’ll shape the kind of giving character that embodies the Christmas spirit.