Piping hot wassail on the last Saturday before Christmas served to a motley crew commonly known as the House Clan. A treasured recipe passed on through the generations, more by doing than telling, but here at last it comes to you. Enjoy!
First add one gallon of fresh, clear cider to a large pot. Next throw in 12 sticks of cinnamon, followed by 8 cloves and . . . what, seriously you thought I’d really divulge this?
Not that the House Clan is known for raising their voices in song (certainly more about raising their glasses), but if we were, a fitting song to sing would be the old favorite, The Gloucestershire Wassail. There must be 100 olde English wassailing tunes, and most are of regional interest I’m sure, but this poor man’s lament to good fortune and good drink stands above the rest. Named for the county it likely originated from, Gloucestershire sits in the southwest region of England along the river Severn. The land encompasses the ancient Forest of Dean and has been inhabited as long as anywhere on the isle.
The Gloucestershire Wassail dates back to medieval times although the original singer has been lost to time. The lyrics are appropriately drunken in their well wishes and just a touch tawdry in nature, but unfortunately whatever edges they once had have been smoothed over by too many saccharine renditions, cleaned and polished in some modern day recording studio in the middle of July. Whatever you may hear, Christmas does not come in July.
Here’s to our horse, and to his right ear,
God send our master a happy new year:
A happy new year as e’er he did see,
With my wassailing bowl I drink to thee.
Please be drunk or at worst have a slight tip in your step when you sing these words. To raise a glass of wassail high above your head and worry not of sloshing over the brim is far different then raising your glass without having to worry about sloshing it.
Be here any maids? I suppose here be some;
Sure they will not let young men stand on the cold stone!
Sing hey O, maids! come trole back the pin,
And the fairest maid in the house let us all in.
I have been a caroling cynic most of my life. My ignorance guides me nowhere fun.
Then here’s to the maid in the lily white smock
Who tripped to the door and slipped back the lock
Who tripped to the door and pulled back the pin
For to let these jolly wassailers in.
Don’t just stand there, and close the door behind you!