586. And so the Shortest Day came and the year died and everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world came people singing, dancing, to drive the dark away. ~Susan Cooper

They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling and
partaking of the wassail.
~Adapted excerpt from Susan Cooper

Screen shot 2014-12-20 at 5.39.14 PM

~by Unknown Author

The word “wassail” is thought to come from the Anglo-Saxon “wel hal” which means “be healthy.” The Anglo-Saxons used the phrase as an everyday greeting. “Waes” is a form of the verb “to be.” “Hal” is the ancestor of the modern English words whole and hale. Thus, “waes hal” literally meant “Be healthy.”

The Vikings who later settled in Northern England used a variant of the same phrase, “Ves heill.” Since the Anglo-Saxons and Norse shared a custom of welcoming guests by presenting them with a horn of ale, a cup of mead, or a goblet of wine, the greeting evolved into a toast.

The phrase eventually evolved into the single word that we know today as “wassail.” The use of “wassailing” to mean “caroling” very likely descended from the custom of singing songs while drinking from the wassail bowl during the Christmas holidays.

Cranberry Wassail
1 gallon ocean spray cranberry juice
5 cups apple juice
2/3 cup sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp allspice (whole)
1 medium sized orange sliced
20 whole cloves

Combine cranberry juice cocktail, apple juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and allspice in a large pot. Heat to boiling over medium heat; reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Strain punch to remove spices. Serve warm in a heat proof punch bowl or chill and serve over ice. Garnish with orange slices studded with cloves. Makes 42 4-ounce servings.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and day and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on earth.” And it was so. ~Genesis 1:13-15   ✝

** Image via Pinterest

33 thoughts on “586. And so the Shortest Day came and the year died and everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world came people singing, dancing, to drive the dark away. ~Susan Cooper

  1. I am smiling for many reasons this very moment…1) I loved the post. 2) I so enjoyed the recipe and 3) I have written down all the ingredients and have asked my brother to pick them up to make! What an unexpected treat I have found here!
    Philippians 1:3 I thank my God for every remembrance of you.
    Blessings to you dear friend. ~Matthew


  2. That would be a great drink with alcoholic cider Natalie. Even I’d get up and dance around the fire, and indulge in a little wassailing. I wonder if that’s where the word wailing comes from.
    Love’n drunken hugs


    • Some people do put wine or other alcholic beverages in wassail, but I decided to go with the plain one for those that like me can have alcohol any more. Oh and I’d love to see you dance around the fire, my friend. Alcohol or no alcohol, I might have to join with you in that. We’d have a wailing good time for sure. Love’n drunken or sober hugs, N ❤


      • It would certainly warm the cockles of your heart on a cold winters night. Alcohol doesn’t agree with me anymore. Anything more than 3 drinks and I begin to think I’m Errol Flynn. I love bonfires though. They bring out the elemental man. I’m sure we would have a good time LMS.
        Love’n Hangover Hugs


  3. Now Natalie, we need to add some mulled wine or spiced rum to this Wassail because I need something a bit more potent right about now 😉
    Thank you for the vibrant image and delightful recipe —can’t wait to try it!!!
    Hugs and love—tuckered cookie


  4. Soooooo wish I could make this here. Can’t get cranberry juice here, except as a specialty item and verrrrrryyyyyy expensive. 😦
    Thanks for sharing the history and evolution of wassailing N. Who would have thought eh. I love that – ‘Be healthy/whole’. Oh, that is great.
    Merry Christmas and hugs.
    🙂 ❤


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