Wassail comes from the Middle English Waes Haeil, translated to be "good health" or "be healthy". Wassailing in medieval tradition was meant to insure a good harvest for the next year. On Wikipedia is part of a traditional Wassailing carol,
"Wassail, Wassail, all over the town,
|Wassailing from Time Travel Britain|
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;
With the Wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee."
The link to the full carol can be found on the Wikipedia page.
Some people will tell you that a REAL recipe for Wassail has eggs in it. I disagree. Originally, it was a mulled cider drink. As the years went on they started adding eggs as an extra symbol of fertility, seeing as this was a drink to ensure a good harvest. So actually, a real Wassail recipe has no eggs. I'm planning on using this recipe here, from about.com
- 2 qts. apple cider
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 orange (unpeeled)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp. whole cloves
- brandy (optional)
Preparation:Combine cider, sugar, ginger and orange in slow cooker. Tie cinnamon and cloves in a small cheesecloth bag; add to crockpot. Cover and cook on LOW 2 to 4 hours. The entire house will smell great! Remove the bag of spices. In a mug put a shot of brandy, then fill with hot mix from cooker.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Another thing that we can all agree on is the use of a Yule Log, even if we decide to do it differently. If you can do a great huge log in a fireplace, great! Not all of us are so lucky though. I love this idea from Jen at Live Wicca, she made her own and it is gorgeous! She is also wonderful enough to have put a mini-tutorial on her post. Check it out here!
Given that we don't have any power tools, and no real access to logs, my solution is what it always is. Baking. I found this great idea for shortbread, with a little more flour than normal, rolled into cylinders and cut into mini Yule log cookies, eventually being dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts. I mean, come on. Shortbread and chocolate and nuts? What can go wrong?
Traditionally, the Yule Log was a symbol of prosperity and protection, an amulet if you will. Whatever was left at the end of the burning would be kept all year, and in fact protected the family all year. The next Yule the fire for the Yule Log was lit with the leftover piece from the last year.
Especially for those of us who don't have a fireplace, candles play an important part in Yule Celebrations. This is similar to the Yule Log, the fire from which certainly symbolized the return of the Sun. In times past it was easier to light a Yule Log, especially when the candle supply had to last until next butchering. These days it is easier for us to do the opposite. I like to use a red candle, to further symbolize flame and the Sun. When I have them, I also use gold, yellow or orange colored candles.
I also use scented candles at Yule. I don't know anyone who is actually liable to have live holly in their house, and we use a fake Yule Tree. So I love using a pine scented candle. I also find that burning both an apple crisp scented candle and a cinnamon scented candle can really make the house smell like Yule! Or at least, a simmering Wassail!
I also like the idea of gifting candles for Yule. What greater way to symbolize the return of light than to share it with people you care about?
I hope everyone has found this interesting, if you have any thoughts about Yule traditions or wish to share yours, feel free to leave a comment!!