Happy Yule Everyone!
To go wassailing is an ancient custom of blessing orchards with fertility for the coming year.
The origin did not actually refer to a beverage, as it does today, but started as a greeting. It has now evolved into the custom modern pagans follow today.
There are different types of Wassailing. One is to visit the orchards and another is to go door to door to visit with people (more in line with its origins). This is where you would sing and offer a drink from your Wassail bowl.
Since I don’t have orchards around me, I take this wassail drink and go out to the evergreen forest on my property and bless the trees. After all, these trees offer me shelter, beauty, and fuel to keep my family warm on long winter nights, so I feel it is important to honor them.
I’ve encountered people who do this at a local park. I’m not sure if this would be considered “vandalism” by strict authorities though, so I personally do not recommend doing this. There is also the consideration that it may disrupt the local wildlife. However, I’ve also seen people bringing evergreen boughs into their homes for an indoor version.
Wassailing is a lot of fun! You can sing, drum or chant for the trees. Dance around while you sprinkle them with the Wassail. You can add another traditional element by putting toast into the bowl and burying it in the earth when you are finished, I do not personally do this because it disrupts the wildlife in my area. My squirrels and chipmunks will dig it up and eat it. But you can certainly serve the toast to your guests after the blessing in a group setting.
You can use the recipe below or whatever festive beverage you typically serve.
Wassail is typically an alcoholic beverage, though it can easily be made non-alcoholic. It was traditionally made with crab apples in a hot mead or ale base. Modern versions use rum or brandy.
I got this recipe from nourishedkitchen.com and it is the best I’ve seen so far.
Wassail Recipe (vegetarian friendly, contains eggs)
- 4 small apples
- ¼ cup unrefined cane sugar
- 1 medium orange
- 13 whole cloves
- 2 quarts hard apple cider
- ½ cup brandy
- 1 tbsp powdered ginger
- 1 tsp grated nutmeg
- 6 allspice berries
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 6 large eggs, (separated)
- toast, (optional, to serve with)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Scoop out the core of the apples without fully penetrating the apple – a melon baller works well. Fill each apple with about a tablespoon of unrefined cane sugar. Place the apples in the baking sheet. Stud an orange with thirteen cloves and place it in the baking sheet. Bake the apples and orange together for forty minutes.
- While the apples and orange bake, pour apple cider and brandy into a heavy-bottomed stock pot and warm over moderately low heat. Whisk in powdered ginger and grated nutmeg. Do not bring the wassail to a boil.
- Cut a small square of the butter muslin and place allspice and cinnamon into the square; tie with 100% cotton cooking twine and float this sachet of spices in the wassail as it warms.
- Beat egg yolks until light in color and set aside. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold egg yolks into whites, then temper the eggs by slowly pouring one-half cup wassail into the eggs. Remove the spice sachet from the wassail and pour in the tempered eggs. Transfer to a punch bowl. Float baked apples and orange in the wassail and serve by the mug, topping each much with a small slice of toast if desired.
Everyone have a happy and safe Yule!