Wassailing and tradition
Christmas is mentioned in all of Jane Austen’s novels and even in some of her short stories. The Christmas season in Georgian England was a time of balls, parties, wassailing, visiting and celebration. The Kinghtleys visit the Woodhouses, the Gardiners visit the Bennets, Lady Russell visits the Musgroves, John Moreland visits the Thorpes (with sad results), William Price visits his sister at Mansfield Park, the Westons hold a party, and John Willoughby distinguished himself when he, “danced from eight o’clock till four without once sitting down.” These incidents and more are covered in Jane Austen’s Christmas: The Festive Season in Georgian England by Maria Hubert.
All this company, visiting and merrymaking requires a lot of food. One popular holiday drink was Wassail. Wassail comes from the Anglo-Saxon toast “Waes Hael” or “Be Whole”. The first “Christmas Carols” were Yuletide drinking songs and singers caroled their neighbourhoods carrying their wassail bowls with them.
1 gallon apple cider
1 large can pineapple juice (unsweetened)
3/4 cup tea (can use herb tea)
Place in a cheesecloth sack:
1 Tablespoon whole cloves
1 Tablespoon whole allspice
2 sticks cinnamon
This is great cooked in a crock pot. Let it simmer very slowly for 4 to 6 hours. You can add water if it evaporates too much. Your home will smell wonderful! Serve warm, garnish with orange slices.
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