23 December 2007

Warm Wassail Wishes!

(Anglo-Saxon: wæs þu hæl, "be thou hale" to be in good health

Wassaile the trees, that they may beare
You many a Plum and many a Peare
For more or lesse fruits they will bring,
As you do give them Wassailing.

The purpose of wassailing is to awake the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn. Traditionally on Old Twelfth Night (January 17th), the ceremonies of each wassail varies from village to village but they generally all have the same core elements. A wassail King and Queen to lead the proceedings, and song and/or a processional tune to be sung from one orchard to the next, the wassail Queen will be lifted up into the boughs of the tree where she will place toast that has been soaked in Wassail as a gift the tree spirits and to show them the fruits of what they created the previous year. Then the assembled crowd will sing and bang pots to make a terrible racket around the orchard to make sure the work was done.

10 very small apples
1 large orange stuck with whole cloves
10 teaspoons brown sugar
2 bottles dry sherry or dry Madeira
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 cloves
3 allspice berries
2 or 3 cinnamon sticks
2 cups castor sugar
12 to 20 pints of cider according to the number of guests
1 cup (or as much as you like) brandy

Core the apples and fill each with a teaspoon of brown sugar. Place in a baking pan and cover the bottom with 1/8-inch of water. Insert cloves into the orange about 1/2" apart. Then bake the orange with the apples in a 350° oven. After about 30 minutes, remove the orange and puncture it in several places with a fork or an ice pick. Combine the sherry or Madeira, cider, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice berries, cinnamon, sugar, apple and orange juice and water in a large, heavy saucepan and heat slowly without letting the mixture come to a boil. Leave on
very low heat. Strain the wine mixture and add the brandy.

1 comment:

Jessica L Leach said...

Hi Kelly - I was wondering if I am able to obtain the Wassailing image you used for this post. We (at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans) would love to use it for our upcoming Christmas show. Thank you.