wassailing!

From 1700:

Here we come a-whistling, through the fields of so green; Here we come a-singing, so fair to be seen.     God send you happy, God send you happy,     Pray God send you a Happy New Year!

The roads are very dirty, my boots are very thin, I have a little pocket to put a penny in.     God send you happy, God send you happy,     Pray God send you a Happy New Year!

Bring out your little table and spread it with a cloth, Bring out some of your old ale, likewise your Christmas loaf.     God send you happy, God send you happy,     Pray God send you a Happy New Year!

God bless the master of this house, likewise the mistress too; And all the little children that round the table strew.     God send you happy, God send you happy,     Pray God send you a Happy New Year!

Source: ANCIENT ENGLISH CHRISTMAS CAROLS: 1400-1700, Edith Rickert

There is a blog on wordpress that is definitely worth subscribing to : Its called Capturing History and one of their links is to Colonial Williamsburg publications.

There was a fascinating  history of Wassail through the ages (  http://www.history.org/Foundation/journal/Holiday06/wassail.cfm   )and the following  recipe for making it.

 

Wassail Recipe from The Williamsburg Cookbook
As traditional and familiar as most any English Christmas carol, the song is among the season’s more anachronistic, an evocation of a holiday custom that pretty much puzzles modern celebrants: wassailing.
(20 servings)
Ingredients 1 cup sugar 4 cinnamon sticks 3 lemon slices 2 cups pineapple juice 2 cups orange juice 6 cups dry red wine ½ cup lemon juice 1 cup dry sherry 2 lemons, sliced
Wassailing is an ancient English custom, part of the feasts and revelry of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, which have been revived in Colonial Williamsburg. The master of the English household drank to the health of those present with a bowl of spiced ale, and each in turn after him passed the bowl along and repeated the Saxon phrase “Wass hael,” which means “be whole” or “be well.”
Directions: Boil the sugar, cinnamon sticks, and 3 lemon slices in ½ cup of water for 5 minutes and strain. Discard the cinnamon sticks and lemon slices.
Heat but do not boil the remaining ingredients. Combine with the syrup, garnish with the lemon slices, and serve hot.

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