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Wassail

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  • Wassail is an English tradition that dates back to the twelfth century. We will examine the definition of the word wassail, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

     

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    Wassail usually refers to a warm, alcoholic punch served at Christmastime consisting of wine or cider, fruit, and brandy or sherry. Wassail may also simply refer to revelry associated with winter holidays and consuming alcohol, or it may refer to the practice of traveling from house to house singing Christmas carols. Wassail may be used as a noun or a verb, related words are wassails, wassailed, wassailing. The word wassail is derived from a Danish expression, ves heill, which means to your health or be healthy. The tradition is reputed to go back to a time when pagans attended their apple groves in the dark of winter to toast the trees and their bounty. This evolved into the Christmas traditions of today, which include enormous wassail bowls filled with warm, alcoholic punch and merriment.

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    Examples

    Wampler’s wassail contains cider and dark rum with lemon and a secret blend of holiday spices topped with a fragrant star anise. (The Atlanta Journal Constitution)

    Originally, it was a custom of English apple orchardists to wassail the major trees of their plot, singing their toasts during the twelfth night celebration. (The Boulder Daily Camera)

    Downtown merchants will serve piping-hot cups of wassail in the historic Denton Courthouse Square and surrounding area. (The Dallas Observer)

    Appearing in Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Smoking Bishop was a London take on the mulled wines of Europe, similar to the wassail – a hot, alcoholic cider – that fueled wassailing, a forerunner of Christmas Carols (like “Here We Come A-wassailing.”) (The Port City Daily)

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