Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Drinks: Hot Wassail from the Family Farm

Christmastime on my side of the family means several things~

Stockings on Saint Nicholas' Day (December 6th), Advent Wreaths and old hymns ("Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus"), Christmas trees from the family farm (spoiled as I was in childhood, with a personal Christmas tree in my bedroom!), and a resurrection of the mismatched mug collection to serve up gallons upon gallons of piping hot wassail to our family, friends, and neighbors.

{ Hot Wassail Recipe Below }

When the season rolls around, my husband Ted and I enjoy inviting friends to join us in picking out Christmas trees at my family's farm, and my mom graciously brings out her enormous stock pot and makes Wassail for all.

A quick internet search yields many variations on the seasonal drink. I'll share my mom's non-alcoholic recipe at the end, but regardless of which recipe you may choose, the key ingredient is the juice/cider from the harvest of apple trees.

Mom's tradition of making Wassail comes from her English heritage. Interestingly (thank you, Wikipedia), "In the cider-producing counties in the South West of England...wassailing refers to a traditional ceremony that involves singing and drinking the health of trees in the hopes that they might better thrive."

I'm not expecting Fraser Firs to sprout apples anytime soon (though let's not give the GMO producers any new ideas), but I'll certainly drink to the health of trees!

{ Christmas Tree Hunting 2010 }

Wassail sings festivity and friendship to me. After years of my mom serving it during Christmas open houses and family parties, the taste instantly brings me to memories of twinkling white lights, evergreen boughs, and smiles on dear faces.

The sweet taste of cranberries and apples and the faintly deep and sour black tea and lemon juice mingle well on the tongue, and deep in my spirit I'm brought to a place of peaceful "just-right-ness." The season of winter weather, cold hands warmed by hot cups, and crackling fires accompanied by carols is here, and it is welcome.

Recently, I made a smaller pot of Wassail at home to serve dinner guests.

{ Buck Family Hot Wassail }

~Mix and simmer~
1 quart black tea (3 bags)
1 quart apple juice or cider
1 quart cranberry juice
3/4 C. lemon juice (or the juice of three lemons)
2 C. orange juice
1 C. sugar (I substituted honey to taste)
3 cinnamon sticks
12 cloves

Garnish with slices of orange or lemon...


A period of rest from the industrious days of summer and the rush of fall comes kindly, offering us the chance to pause, if we will take it.

Perhaps by way of reflection - writing, photographing, musing - or simply by warming a drink and savoring the rising steam, we will each be calmed to the point of a quiet heart and a profound gratefulness.


A beautiful moment's pause I've been enjoying this year:

{ Christmas is Happening }

I hope it is a gift to you~


~ Bethany

2 comments:

Blessed2bemommy said...

The pictures are beautiful, and I love the tradition of stockings on St. Nicholas Day. You're amazing!

Bethany said...

Thanks, Lisa! Do you and your kiddos do St. Nicholas stockings? Miss you in these parts...can't wait until you're back in Portland :)

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