A Yule tradition and recipe from Seton’s Simple Pleasures for the Holidays: One Yule tradition is wassailing. Wassail is an alcoholic drink made of cider or ale. In the past, it was placed in wooden bowls and carried door to door throughout the neighborhood, gathering people, sing, and spread tidings of good cheer.

In the British Isles, folks not only wassail one another, but the trees. A tree is chosen, usually an oak, and a hymn is sung to it, wishing it good health and long life. A blessing is also bestowed upon it to be fruitful; then guns are fired or some other loud noise is made in order to drive off bad spirits. People then drink toasts to the tree and some wassail is poured on the earth around the trunk while bread and cakes are placed on its branches.

 Wassail recipe

In modern times, wassail is usually served indoors, at holiday parties. This recipe, which can be nonalcoholic, is from the Wedgewood Inn in New Hope, Connecticut.

  •  1 gallon apple cider
  • 2 quarts cranberry juice
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 2 oranges, studded with cloves
  • 4 sticks cinnamon
  • 2 cups rum, optional

In a 2-gallon pot combine all ingredients and heat gently. Serve warm.

Makes 24 servings.

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