I have a bit of a love hate relationship with Christmas. On the one hand, I understand the feeling of belonging, joy and contentment everyone is striving for, and at times, have experienced them myself. But the mish-mash of obligation, sentimentality, rampant consumerism, outright greed and a religious story I simply do not buy into (no offence meant to those who do) often leaves me understanding what Scrooge meant by “bah, humbug”.

What I DO love, of course, is the cooking. Nothing like a great pot of soup on the stove and cookies baking in the oven to make me feel all warm and snug and allow me to share my love with others in, what to me, is a genuine way. One of my favorite holiday traditions is drinking wassail, which really just means a hot mulled cider of some sort.

In looking up the meaning of wassailing, I learned that wassail is a derivation of a middle English phrase “waes hail” meaning “good health” and that wassailing was an ancient southern English tradition of singing to the apple orchard with the intention of ensuring a good crop of cider apples in the coming year. Now HERE is a tradition I can get behind.

Here’s a wassailing song from Wikipedia (so you know it has to be true).

Old apple tree, old apple tree;
We’ve come to wassail thee;
To bear and to bow apples enow;
Hats full, caps full, three bushel bags full;
Barn floors full and a little heap under the stairs

Wassail (Mulled Cranberry/Apple Cider)

  • 32 oz cranberry juice cocktail
  • 32 oz apple cider
  • 3 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • orange slices
  • whole cloves

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or longer. Strain punch to remove spices. Place in a heat proof punch bowl or ladle directly into mugs. Garnish with extra orange slices studded with cloves, if desired.

Miles Away Farm Blog © 2010, where we’re miles away from rescuing the American economy with our Christmas shopping, but are enjoying a warm mug of cider on a snowy evening and wishing everyone a joyous holiday season.