Author Jennifer Fromke
Our favorite family tradition comes in a warm mug, but starts in our hearts.
Wassail in Middle English literally means “good health.” It is a hot English drink, usually a variation of spiced cider. Historically, town in Southwest England would hold a celebration on Twelfth Night, where the participants march through apply orchards, singing and drinking cider. Throughout the night, toast dipped in wassail would be hung in the apple trees by the Wassail Queen. The purpose of the ceremony was to awaken the apple trees in preparation for another growing season, and by hanging the wassail dipped toast, last year’s produce was thought to encourage the tree spirits to produce an excellent harvest for the coming year.
Since wassailing traditionally took place on January 5th, it’s easy to see why it is so often associated with Christmas. But our family starts to crave the delicious concoction as soon as the weather turns cool, and we continue to enjoy it all winter long. Sometimes I make so many batches, I feel like the Wassail Queen herself!
Most of us have the recipe memorized, and we keep the ingredients on hand throughout the season. Hot and sweet, this drink always brings back happy memories of campfires in the back yard, Christmas Eve, football games, working puzzles together, and family game nights throughout the long winter. So when we drink a cup of wassail, we drink a cup of family togetherness, tradition, and happy memories. It’s a cup of yum, which makes us all feel a little bit closer to each other.
4 cups tea (heat water in large kettle, dip tea bags until desired darkness)
4 cups cranberry juice
4 cups apple juice
2 cups orange juice
3/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
Simmer on stove, serve until it’s gone. (if by some chance you don’t drink it all, stick it in the fridge . . . it’s great cold or reheated the next morning).
Jennifer Fromke’s debut novel, A Familiar Shore, is about a large family with some fascinating traditions. http://amzn.to/U3Wi86 She writes from North Carolina, but hails from the much colder regions of the Midwest, where Wassail season lasts much longer.