January is time for the merriment of Wassailing and this year is no different in Bucks and surrounding counties. But what do you know about the ancient tradition that celebrates apple growing in the UK?
Wassailing/ Wassail is derived from the old English ‘waes hal’, meaning ‘good health,’ ‘be whole‘ or ‘be well’
A long standing tradition of blessing trees to promote a good and successful harvest for the next season. Warding off bad spirits that walk the land- including the orchards! Keeping the trees in good health. Thought to be an Anglo Saxon custom dating back many centuries and is today still a fun, lively and celebrated tradition in orchards and farms alike
Gathering together local workers, families, residents and visitor, the celebrations can include the opportunity to sing, make noise, sing, play instruments and dance around the largest tree; with the crowds joining in a wassail chant. Some events also include after dark antics including torch lit processions and a wassail pot full of warm cider/ perry or ale; making a toast to the wassail queen to bless the forthcoming year ahead. Although this tradition usually is enjoyed of the Twelfth Night of the year (January 5th/ 6th or historically the 17th due to old ‘twelvey night’) you can find events taking place across the month of January each year. Cider will also be poured over the wassail trees roots to wish good health and toast slices soaked in cider are hung in the branches will attract the good spirits ‘the robins’.
Interested to try to make your own Wassail punch?
- 5 to 6 large baking apples- peeled and cored
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups of beer or ale
- 2 cinnamon sticks- broken in half or 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1-1/2 cups sherry or sweet red wine
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Cut the apples into thick slices and arrange in layers in a baking dish (with lid)
- Sprinkle over a few teaspoons of sugar over each layer
- Cover and bake for 30 minutes. (The apples will get puffy and soft.)
- While the apples bake, mix the beer, spices, lemon zest, and remaining sugar in a large saucepan
- Heat slowly, bringing just to a simmer (Don’t let the mixture boil)
- When it is hot add the sherry and keep heating until the mixture reaches a simmer again- still not boiling.
- Place the hot baked apples in a punch bowl, and pour the hot wassail over them
- Serve hot
For a non alcoholic version switch beer and wine for apple and cranberry juice!
Wassail! From us at Bucks Food Partnership
Why not join a local event?
EVENT: Winter Wassail 30.01.2022 @New Inn Farm Buckingham (Stowe) 1.30pm – 3pm