When the weather looks like this, a hot cup of wassail can really hit the spot! When I was growing up, we seemed to have a big pot of this simmering in the kitchen all the time.
There are actually two ways of using the word “wassail.” Many of us know the song “Here We Come A-Wassailing,” which meant that we were going caroling, or singing for friends and neighbors. For all the words, click here. The word “wassail” comes from an old English word meaning “be healthy,” or “here’s to your health.”
So when people were singing or caroling, they actually were giving a blessing of good health to those they visited. In turn, they would be offered a cup of hot wassail. Traditional wassail was probably mead or beer, or some sort of mulled wine.
My home was a tee-totalling Methodist preacher’s home, so no alcohol was involved. Over the years, as an adult, I would occasionally add a little rum, but it’s just as good without any added spike. Keep a pot of this going on your stove, and not only will it warm your tummy, but it will make the house smell wonderful and Christmasy!
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HOT WASSAIL BOWL
2 large oranges
2 sticks cinnamon
2 T whole cloves
1 c. sugar
6 c. water
1 gallon apple cider
Squeeze and reserve juice of oranges and lemons.
Add orange and lemon skins to water with cinnamon, cloves and sugar.
Simmer in covered saucepan for 1 hour.
Strain and add to cider with reserved juice.
Reheat but do not boil. Serve hot. (Good with rum added).
I haven’t made mine yet this year, so I’m off to do that. Even living in warm Hawai`i without the snow, I’m sure one batch won’t be enough!
A hui hou!