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NEW! The Book of Wassail Now available. A five volume study of wassail-music, literature, folklore, recipes and more. Hundreds of songs. Nothing like it has ever been published. Get yours today! All after cost proceeds go toward maintaining our free reference pages -like this one. Much much more in the new book!  
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Try out our small guide to Wassail:  Do the Wassail    Click for details!
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                        and recordings related to wassail!I have created these pages to spread the "good news" of these customs, these treasures. Wassail can be done anytime in the Christmas season. We seek the true revelry and rant so absent from modern celebration. We seek an older time when the human spirit shouted for joy in the Winter. We create a festive gift which could not be purchased and can  hardly be wrapped-except in wonder.  We gather outdoors as the shepherds of the first Christmas round a fire in the weather that God sends. As the wise men we see our many paths and outlooks come together-to the fire. Our path leads to the unity of celebration and the shared bowl. While donning the garb of custom and the regalia of tradition we do not re-create rather create anew-renewing. We invite all who are dedicated to true thanksgiving and celebration to join us. Provided are meat pies, a large pot of Wassail outside and a hot fire.  Smoking Bishop from silver pitchers adorned with ribbons is  in the hall surrounded by music and rich cakes.  Somewhere in the midst of the singing and proclaiming our resistance to the season, addressing,  the sky, daring the cold, calling to  the stars and the trees; the time comes to remember our many struggles.  This we do with ancient mummers plays (this is fun! click here!). I have gathered these treasures here for you to join us-wherever you are. (Image=illustrated London News, 1843:William Little.) Click here to start.
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Apple Wassail

The Drink



Wassail Box

The Play

Wassail in Literature

Wassail facts

Mari Lwyd




Sources &

History  of Celebration

Location of Celebrations
Find One!

Wassail fun!

Conrad on Wassail mp3

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NEW! The Book of Wassail
Now available. A five volume study of wassail-music, literature, folklore, recipes and more. Hundreds of songs. Nothing like it has ever been published. Get yours today! All after cost proceeds go toward maintaining our free reference pages -like this one. Much much more in the new book!  

Click here for details,

 Do the Wassail!

Those who enjoy the holiday traditions may enjoy this!
Do the Wassail Conrad Jay Bladey, Hutman Productions 2002.Do the Wassail in the Hall, Do the Wassail Door to Door, Do the Wassail with a Mumming Play. Do the Wassail with a bowl and do the Wassail with song. Do the Wassail with the Oxen, do the Wassail with bonfires, Do the Wassail in the Kitchen and in the Apple Orchards. Do the Wassail door to door!  A spectacular illustrated guide to all things Wassail. All you need to make a perfect celebration. Recipes, traditions, dramatic plays, sayings, songs, and celebrations. Well researched and authentic. The only work of its kind. Great Hymnal for that holiday gathering. It is a great Hymnal for that Wassail gathering!
See further information at:

wasspub.html Just clickit!


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First Comes the Wassail
There are many approaches to Wassail. 
Traditionally it is served in wooden bowls and
loving cups or poured from  Susans  or as say 
some of the songs.
Peter Kennedy notes the following materials  for bowls are mentioned in the songs:
"Mulberry, Rosemary (Bramley and Stainer), White Maple Tree
(Vaughan Williams 1908), Elderberry Bough (Gower,
South Wales) Ashen Tree (Sharp)"-Kennedy,1975,p232.
Charles Dickens mentions an Earthenware Jug
(see our literature page)

We use shining pewter tankards and a great  silver plated pitcher -colored ribbons tied to its handles, and tray. The word Wassail is Scandinavian- In Sussex it is often called "Howling". The most popular date is the evening of Epiphany  January 6 or 12th night.  For more on celebration  customs go to our texts page.
click here. for sources click here

The History of the Celebration: Click here for history
Wassail in the Hall, Here we go a Wassailing in the streets from  house to house and the mysterious Apple Wassail. The songs  and traditions are associated with specific places click here to view maps  indicating their locations.

The Drink-click here for recipes!
The world now seems quite confused as to the drink itself. Recipes vary greatly  and include jello shooters. Wine, Sherry, Madeira, Cider,  Scrumpy and fine ale are all mentioned but then so is Tequila. In  the tradition of the west of England and the apple country Scrumpy must have played a large role. This is an extremely potent drink made from fermented apples possibly akin to Apple Jack. Spices are often put into the drink. Allspice, Mace, Nutmeg, Cinnamon are all mentioned.....
Apples roasted till cooked in hot in the oven or underneath a broiler are thrown in at the last minute when they burst out making a loud noise of popping. You can take your pick from Possets, Bishops and Cider/Ale Wassails. We also have a page which discusses Wassail beers and provides some recipes for them. Click here for the  beers.

The Song-click here for songs
Sung by carolers. They wish blessings and good fortune on the occupants of a house. They mention that they are in need of drink and or food and or money. There are many tunes and lyrics associated with Wassail. Often the songs were sung head bowed with great reverence. For the tunes go here!

The Food-click here for recipes    The food must be hearty. The Wassailers  are out doors - they need warmth pies and plum pudding. Steaming plates inside, and hand warmers to be taken on the way. We also have recipes for toast for the bowl- an essential part of any Wassail.

The Texts: click here for wassail in texts Wassail is described or referenced in many important books and texts. We present a few of them for you here. Here  you will find more details on the history of the celebration.

Where to Celebrate?Click here for a guide to celebrations all over the  world. You can e.mail us to have your wassail event listed here for free! 

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wassail   n.,
Etymology: Middle English wæs hæil, from Old Norse ves heill be well, from ves (imperative singular of vera to be) + heill healthy .Date: 13th century

A festive occasion or meeting with much drinking and pledging of healths; a drinking  bout; a carouse.  the liquor used on such occasions, especially around Christmas or the new year.  a merry drinking song. the salutation formerly given in drinking the health of a person, as at a festivity.   v.,   wassailed, wassailing; to drink to the health or prospering of.   to drink wassail; to carouse. 
 wassailer   n.,  one who wassails; a merry maker; a reveler.

In Saxon times the original form of this word was: 
was hail,
(be whole) and was a greeting meaning: "be in good health". In twelfth century, it became  a toast, you replied: drink hail, or "drink good health". (Hail = modern  "hale" ,Meaning:  "health; well-being". It is related to:  "hail" which  means "salute, greet or  welcome".) The toast originated with the Danes; by the twelfth century the Normans thought it to be  the most popular sayings of Britain .The word later was used for drink related to the toast.  which was usually spiced ale  or  mulled wine made for Christmas Eve or Twelfth Night (Jan.6). In the west of Britain the good health of the apple trees was toasted on Twelfth Night. The luck of next year's crop of cider apples was wished. Bread soaked in cider was put into the branches of trees to keep evil spirits away. Ritual songs were sung. Wassailing  This is also done on 17th January:  the Old Twelfth Night.  Hot cakes were a popular accompaniment. Cider was often splashed on the apple trees while men fired their guns at the tree and banged on pots and pans. 

A. L. Lloyd in his work Folksong of England suggests that Wassail songs belong to a wider group of pan-European songs he calls quete  or quest, begging or collecting songs. He illustrates his point with examples from Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Sweden and France.

Ronald Hutton reports: "From the eighth century poem Beowulf to fourteenth century literature such as the conduct book of Robert of Brunne, the word "wassail"  appears as a toast.  It is simply the Old English for "be of good health".  The bowl is first mentioned by Matthew Paris in the thirteenth century, as one in which cakes and fine white bread were communally dipped.  Near the end of the same century Robert of Gloucester retold the legend of the marriage of the British king Vortigern with the Saxon princess Rowena, making the latter drink to the former with the words "waes heal".  When Peter de Lantoft repeated the story in the 1320s, he portrayed people drinking alternately from the same cup with the exchange "wassaille" and "drinkhaille", exactly as in Tudor England. This sequence raises the possibility that the exchange became customary around 1300, but this, again cannot be proved."- The Rise and Fall of Merry England, Ronald Hutton, Oxford,1996. p. 58.

What is interesting about the wassail custom is that those who go door to  door generally  bring  the wassail! Sometimes they mention receiving payment for it. This may indicate that the custom evolved as a way to re-distribute apple, ale, and alcohol  based resources. One function would be to preserve and re-distribute the crop but, could a concern for taxation enter into this? Certainly appearing to  give away alcohol as a part of ancient tradition may be a way to avoid the revenuer!



Our Bookshelf
This is where you can purchase books and recordings to keep these pages up and running! Merry Christmas to each and every one!


Here you will find a section where we list general sources click it here!  You may also consult our major bibliography by clicking it right  here. Or, if you don't want to  read anything right now simply  go to our contribution pages click here to make a donation.  These pages are entirely a donated effort. We offer our thanks directly to you in advance for your assistance click here!
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A list of  general sources click it here!
You may also consult our major bibliography by clicking it right  here.

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Sources for Recorded Music and Printed texts.....(under construction more soon...)

The Folksongs of Britain Vol. IX., Collected and Edited by Peter Kennedy and Alan Lomax, Volume Nine, TC 1224. Caedmon tc 1224,1967

Side 1
1. Cornish Wassail Song
a. Charlie Bate Padstow, Cornwall, (Recorded by Peter Kennedy)
b. Turo Wassail Bowl, Singers, Malpas, Cornwall,(Recorded by Peter Kennedy)
11. The Gower Wassail Song, Charlie Bate, Padstow, Cornwall, (Recorded by Peter Kennedy)
Side 2
5. Somerset Wassail Song, Harry and Walter Sealy, Ash Priories, Taunton,Somerset, (Recorded by Peter Kennedy)

The Rise and Fall of Merry England, Ronald Hutton, Oxford,1996

A Tapestry of Carols, Maddy Prior and The Carnival Band, CSDL 366

Wassail! A Country Christmas Magpie Lane BEJOCD-8

Bob Pegg - Rites and Riots: Folk Customs of Britain and Europe. Blandford 1981.

Carols and Capers, Maddy Prior and The Carnival Band, PRK CD9

Christmas Now is Drawing Near, Sneak's Noyse, CSDL 371

Folksong in England.,Paladin, 1975.A.L. Lloyd.
"Gower Wassail"- "A. L. Lloyd Wassail"

"Frost and Fire" - The Watersons

Husk, Song's of the Nativity, 1868 [1-8] & Ritson, Ancient Songs and Ballads, 1829 [8-9]
                         WASSAIL SONG [S7256] - Traditional Yorkshire melody

'Voice of The People' Volume 16,Topic, TSCD 666

                     'The Wassailers' recorded in Bodmin on Twelfth Night, 1973.
                     'The Waysailing Bowl' sung by Billy Buckingham

Jacqueline Simpson - Folklore of the Welsh Borders. Batsford 1976

Janet and Stuart Bord - Earth Rites: Fertility Practices in Pre-Industrial Britain. Paladin 1982

John Raven - The Folklore of Staffordshire. Batsford 1978.

Kingley Palmer - Folklore of Somerset. Batsford 1976.

Mrs Leather - Folklore of Herefordshire 1912

New American Guitar Ensemble. Songs, Hymns and Carols, Revonah RR 842, LP (1984), cut# 12

R. Vaughan Williams' Eight Traditional English Carols, 1919
                         YORKSHIRE WASSAIL §6599
                         as sung to R. Vaughan Willaims by singers near Hooten Roberts, Yorkshire
                         harmonization by R. Vaughan Willaims, Eight Traditional English Carols, 1919

Ritchie, Jean. Singing Family of the Cumberlands, Oak, Sof (1955), p.166

T F Thiselton Dyer - The Folk-Lore of Plants. Originally published in 1889, facsimile reprint by Llanerch Publishers 1994.

Tanner, Phil. World Library of Folk and Primitive Music. Vol 1. England, Rounder 1741, CD (1998), cut#15

The Oxford Book of Carols

The Penguin Book of Christmas Carols

The Best of Nowell sing We Clear, John Roberts and Tony Barrand GHM202CD

Wassail! A Country Christmas, Magpie Lane,  BEJOCD-8

Watersons. Frost and Fire, Elektra EKS-7321, LP (106?), cut# 14

Milton, Comus, or  A  M A S K  PRESENTED  At LUDLOW-Castle,  1634. &c.,
Source:Luxon, Thomas H., ed. The Milton Reading Room,,
November 23,1999..

Elizabeth David, English Bread and Yeast Cookery., Viking, New York, 1980

Mimi Sheraton, Visions of Sugarplums.,Random House, 1968,

You may also consult our major bibliography by clicking it right  here.
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Merry Christmas to All!

 Afrikaans - een plesierige kerfees Arabic - I'D MIILAD SAID OUA SANA SAIDA Argentine - Felices Pasquas Y felices ano Nuevo Armenian - Shenoraavor Nor
  Dari yev Pari Gaghand Azeri - Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun Basque - Zorionak eta Urte Berri On!Bohemian - Vesele Vanoce Brazilian - Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo
 Breton - Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat Bulgarian - Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo Chinese - (Mandarin) Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan
(Catonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun Cornish - Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth Cree - Mitho Makosi KesikansiCroatian - Sretan Bozic Czech - Prejeme
  Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok Danish - Glædelig Jul Dutch - Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! English - Merry ChristmasEsperanto - Gajan
 KristnaskonEstonian - Ruumsaid juulup|hiFarsi - Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad Finnish - Hyvaa jouluaFrench - Joyeux NoelFrisian - Noflike Krystdagen en in
  protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier!German - Froehliche Weihnachten Greek - Kala Christouyenna!Hawaiian - Mele KalikimakaHebrew - Mo'adim Lesimkha. Chena
  tova Hindi - Shub Naya BarasHungarian - Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeketIcelandic - Gledileg JolIndonesian - Selamat Hari NatalIraqi - Idah Saidan Wa Sanah
    Jadidah Irish - Nollaig Shona DhuitItalian - Buone Feste NatalizieJapanese - Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu OmedetoKorean - Sung Tan Chuk Ha Latvian -
 Prieci'gus Ziemsve'tkus un Laimi'gu Jauno Gadu! Lithuanian - Linksmu Kaledu Manx - Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa Maori - Meri KirihimeteMarathi - Shub Naya
   Varsh Navajo - Merry KeshmishNorwegian - God JulPennsylvania German - En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en hallich Nei Yaahr! Polish - Wesolych Swiat Bozego
     Narodzenia Portuguese - Boas FestasRapa-Nui - Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi. Te-Pito-O-Te-HenuaRumanian - Sarbatori veseleRussian - Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom
  Rozhdestva is Novim Godom Serbian - Hristos se rodiSlovakian - Sretan Bozic or Vesele vianoceSami - Buorrit JuovllatSamoan - La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le
 Tausaga FouScots Gaelic - Nollaig chridheil huibh Serb-Croatian - Sretam Bozic. Vesela Nova Godina Singhalese - Subha nath thalak Vewa. Subha Aluth Awrudhak
  Vewa Slovak - Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok Slovene - Vesele Bozicne. Screcno Novo Leto Spanish - Feliz Navidad Swedish - God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott
 Nytt År Tagalog - Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Taon Tamil - Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal Thai - Sawadee Pee Mai Turkish - Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz
    Kutlu Olsun Ukrainian - Srozhdestvom KristovymUrdu - Naya Saal Mubarak Ho Vietnamese - Chung Mung Giang Sinh Welsh - Nadolig LlawenYugoslavian -
             Cestitamo Bozic Papua New Guinea - Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia i go long yu. Il-Milied it-tajjeb - Maltese

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