The Christmas season concludes with Twelfth Night. Associated with merrymaking and even mischief, Twelfth Night serves as a bridge between Christmas and Epiphany. It seems appropriate then to finish up our survey of Christmas Carols with a wassailing song. Wassailing was a practice that, in some ways, goes back to pre-Christian Europe, but took on most of its popularity in the middle ages. It involved door-to-door caroling and, of course, the drinking of wassail. “Wassail” is actually an expression, of Anglo-Saxon and possibly older Norse origins, which means “be hale” or “be healthy.” The name was transferred to the drink, typically a hot mulled cider, over the years as people would offer “Wassail” as a toast. And so the tradition of wassailing was that of door-to-door caroling with the drinking of wassail and the wishing of God’s blessing upon the residents of the house, and it was typically done on Twelfth Night.
Of course, wassailing also took on some other associations. Continue reading