Wassail


Did you know there are competitions for making serving vessel wassail bowls? Learn more at Stewart King’s site. The bowls carried by those who went wassailing were no doubt a bit more simple, especially when it was the peasant class.

Lyrics posted here are from various songs sang while wassailing.

Wassail! Wassail! all over the town,
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;
With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee.

The song is a bit confusing for some. The “ale” may have been a different drink, not actually the wassail songsters have sung about given to them by homeowners they “wassail-ed.” The recipe for that wassail probably varied quite a bit.

Christmas is coming
The goose is getting fat
Please put a penny in an old man’s hat
If you haven’t got a penny
A hapenny will do
If you haven’t got a hapenny
Then God bless you

Similar to caroling, but some warm wassail was often expected from those who were sung to: often alcoholic. It goes back to at least feudal days when peasants would “wassail” the gentry or nobility. It was permitted because it wasn’t considered begging. The beverage: wassail, was often served to the those who were wassailing. The word, “wassail,” may have been partially derived from the Old Norse ‘Ves heill,” from the Old English salutation “Wes Hal,” meaning “Be In Good Health.”

Another form of Wassailing courtesy The Whimple History Society
Another form of Wassailing courtesy The Whimple History Society

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