12 Days of Christmas: Wassail

The history of the Twelve Days of Christmas is a set of 12 festive days beginning on Christmas Day, December 25, and lasting until January 5.  The festival has been observed by various sects of Christianity, including Orthodox and Catholic churches, and was very prominent during the Middle Ages.  In fact, William Shakespeare’s play Twelth Night is set to the climax of the feasting and merrymaking.  Observances of some aspects of the Twelve Days of Christmas still hold today, like Boxing Day in the UK, but has been largely forgotten in the United States.  There are a number of popular dishes that have their origin in this merrymaking Christmas festivity, such as roasted goose, plum pudding, and wassail.

My husband and I have had the pleasure of having two of those dishes as long-time traditions in our families.  For my husband, plum pudding is always on the Christmas table.  For myself, my Aunt Barb has served wassail at our family Christmas gatherings for my entire life.  I now serve this favorite hot cider to my guests throughout the holidays.  Wassail is a wonderful cider that is naturally allergy-friendly and a delight for adults and kids alike.

From Wikipedia:

The word Wassail refers to several related traditions; first and foremost wassailing is an ancient southern English tradition that is performed with the intention of ensuring a good crop of cider apples for the next year’s harvest. It also refers to both the salute ‘Waes Hail’, the term itself is a contraction of the Middle English phrase waes hail, meaning literally ‘good health’ or ‘be you healthy’ and to the drink of wassail which is a hot mulled cider traditionally drunk as an integral part of the wassail ceremony.

Over the next 12 days, I will post 12 recipes that can be used in your Christmas celebrations, ranging from drinks to dessert and every course in between.  Although the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas doesn’t start until December 25, I want you to be able to serve these allergy-friendly dishes throughout the holiday season.  All normal posts will resume in a couple weeks, including The Willing Cook-A-Long.

Here’s to the 1st day of your merrymaking, Willing Cook-style.

Annual Christmas Tea, 2008


I double the recipe for a large crowd.


  • 6 cups apple cider
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoons nutmeg, ground
  • 1/4 cups honey
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 cans pineapple juice, unsweetened


Heat cider and cinnamon sticks in large pan. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Keep hot over low heat, or eat in batches as guest arrive.
Makes 20 cups.


Shared at Fat Tuesday, Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, Simple Lives Thursdays, Pennywise Platter, and Traditional Tuesdays.

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9 Responses to 12 Days of Christmas: Wassail

  1. Kristen says:

    Adorable! Ahhh…they look so sweet and little. Oh my, time sure flies. I’ve never made Wassail…thanks for the recipe! I’m getting into the spirit a little, so I’ll have to give it a try.

    • Cook says:

      Aren’t they sweet? I thought you would like that picture. This is a very easy recipe, delicious, and easy to reheat.

  2. Yum-I love apple cider. I am excited to try this recipe!

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