The Wassail Bowl

“Here’s to thee, old apple tree
Whence thou mayest bud
Whence thou mayest blow
Whence thou mayest bear apples enow.”

-Wassailing Songs, England, January 5th

The tradition of the Wassail started in pagan times in England and Europe to awaken the apple trees. It was used to encourage a bountiful harvest the following year, it often occurred around Yuletide. The Wassail Queen would often be lifted up into the tree to place pieces of toast, soaked in the wassail punch, into the branches of the tree. The toast and Wassail was an offering to the tree spirits and a reminder to the apple of what to do. The Queen would also recite an incantation that went something like this:

Here’s to thee, old apple tree,
That blooms well, bears well.
Hats full, caps full,
Three bushel bags full,
An’ all under one tree.

Hurrah! Hurrah!

The term Wassail comes from the Middle English wæs hæil, meaning good health, and was used as a salute during the ceremony.

Apple Wassail Bowl

6 small tart apples, cored and sliced (leave the skin on)
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 quart apple cider
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, + some for sprinkling
1/4 cup granulated sugar ( or sugar substitute)
4 thin lemon slices

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 10 x 6 x 1 1/2-inch baking pan.
  2. Core the apples and slice into rings, arrange in pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar, sprinkle of cinnamon and bake in preheated oven until tender. Set aside.
  3. Just before serving, pour cider in saucepan and heat to just below boiling point. Stir in remaining ingredients over low heat until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Remove lemon slices. Pour mixture into punch bowl.
  5. Garnish with apple slices.

Makes 12 servings.

Wassail Bowl (from Wikpedia)

Wassail Bowl (from Wikpedia)

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