You may have heard of the ancient custom of wassailing, it goes on a lot in Devon and other parts of the West Country where the growing of hard orchard fruit is most concentrated. The wassailing ceremony frequently begins just before dark when the wassailing cup is prepared. Many families who still uphold this time honoured tradition keep a wassailing bowl to serve while singing the old country verse.

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green;
Here we come a-wand’ring
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too;
And God bless you and send you
a happy New Year.

The wassailing bowl is usually made from some sort of ceramic or turned from wood, though a few silver ones have survived in richer families. It is  not unlike a punchbowl in so much as it has handles on either side for ease of carrying.

Many old waissing recipes have survived to this day, including a drink called Lamb’s Wool, made of hot ale, eggs, spices, sugar, cream and roasted apples. The one chosen is an easy-to-prepare, if slightly plainer recipe, that can be served to carol singers on cold winter evenings.

Wassailing Cup Ingredients:

6 pints of cider
1lb brown sugar
Stick cinnamon
Grated nutmeg to taste
½ level teaspoon ginger
2 sliced lemons
1 bottle sherry

Heat half the cider in a saucepan, add the cinnamon and sugar, then simmer till dissolved. Add the rest of the cider, the sherry and the spices. Float the lemon slices on the top.